News FocusAstronomy

Submillimeter Astronomy Reaches New Heights

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Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1836
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1836

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Summary

LLANO DE CHAJNANTOR, CHILE-- High in the Chilean Andes, over 5000 meters above sea level, astronomers are planning the world's loftiest observatory: a 10-kilometer-wide array of dishes to peer into the universe's cold recesses and open a sharp eye on celestial features ranging from surface markings on Pluto to extrasolar planets to the dusty central regions of active galaxies. Lying in one of the driest deserts on Earth and perched above 50% of the atmosphere, this plateau is the next best place to outer space for submillimeter studies. The array is being planned by a nascent collaboration between the European Southern Observatory, the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and possibly Japanese astronomers as well.