ALMA Matters

Submitted by Gerald Schieven
(Cassiopeia – Summer/Été 2015)

2015 ALMA Summer School, Penticton 17-21 August

There is still space in the 2015 ALMA Summer School! Join us in Penticton, BC for a week of learning and practicing all things ALMA. Previous experience with interferometers or ALMA is not necessary. We will cover the basics of radio astronomy, interferometry and the how-tos of ALMA (its capabilities, applying for time, managing projects and data reduction). This is a workshop style school with lots of time for hands-on applications. We have room for a maximum of 30 participants.

Please head to this site for more details about the summer school.

Cycle 3 Call for Proposals

The call for ALMA Cycle 3 proposals ended 23 April with 1582 proposals, a record for any astronomical facility, requesting over 9000 hours of 12-m Array time (an oversubscription rate of ~4.3). Twenty-three proposals were submitted with PIs from Canadian institutions, down slightly from Cycle 2. PIs will be notified of the success of their proposals by July 29. Cycle 3 will begin on October 1.

User Support at NRC-Herzberg

If you are an ALMA user who would like one-on-one help with your data, the NAASC is here to help! You can arrange a trip to Victoria (or Charlottesville, VA) to get help from an ALMA expert in dealing with your dataset. Please contact Brenda Matthews [email] at NRC if you are interested in arranging a visit to Victoria, or submit a ticket to the ALMA Helpdesk. Details about visiting the North American ALMA Regional Center in Charlottesville, VA, can be found at this site.

Heterodyne Receiver Array Prototype

Following the successful paper study of a multi-pixel focal plane array for the ALMA total power antennas, funded in part by the North American ALMA partnership’s ALMA Development Studies program, the Millimetre Technology Group at NRC Herzberg is now planning to design, build, and test a small 4-pixel array prototype for the Band 3 frequency range of 84 to 116 GHz. This mini-array project will be used to validate the cold stop design and the very compact 2SB, dual polarization, RF assembly which has been developed in Victoria. Many challenges lay ahead in areas including lenslet design, cold stop optimization, machinability of very compact assemblies, and feasibility of integration into a limited cryostat space.

ALMA Technical Maintenance

The Band 3 receivers continue to operate reliably with very few failures. Only one cold cartridge is presently in the Victoria laboratory and it is being used as a test-bed for the cartridge gain stability upgrade project.

ALMA Band 3 Development Project

NRC Herzberg is currently involved in a second Development Program activity to upgrade the gain stability of the Band 3 receivers. Over the past few months we have been able to test magnetic defluxing heaters on a cartridge and have obtained promising results. In close collaboration with the North American partnership and the Joint ALMA Observatory, we are working towards a technical solution that improves gain stability at low cost and low risk for deployment in Chile.

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