Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, almost the whole ALMA site has been shut down for the past six months. With the improving pandemic situation in Chile, ALMA is now scheduled to begin the long process of recovering the telescope array on October 1st, 2020. The road to recovery of operations, and ultimately science observations – a milestone that will not take place this year – has been carefully planned and more details can be found here.
The current restart plan requires about 80 days to reach the antenna power-up milestone, assuming there are no major repairs needed, or changes in the schedule due to impacts of the pandemic. The time needed to recover sufficient antennas for science observations is highly uncertain. Nevertheless, the aim is to have antennas collecting data and verifying the observing systems after approximately 100 days – whether this is a handful, or many antennas, remains difficult to predict. This implies that January is the earliest there may be enough functional antennas and cooled receivers to attempt the first science observations.
Status updates will continue to be provided at least monthly on the Science Portal, as the recovery of operations progresses. Specific capabilities and potential science observing dates will be identified after the status of antennas and other critical systems is better understood.
As always, the ALMA Regional Centres continue to provide support to their respective communities. At Allegro, we continue to actively provide support to our users. Don’t hesitate to e-mail us in case of questions, comments, or concerns.