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Kitt Peak National Observatory

Steward Observatory’s New 12m Antenna on Kitt Peak

Lucy Ziurys, Director of the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO), announced this week that a new 12 m antenna, the ESO ALMA prototype, is now installed in the dome on Kitt Peak. The final major piece, the 40ft. reflector, was brought up the mountain on Friday, December 13th, and then was lifted into the dome and bolted to the pedestal at ~1.00pm on Saturday, December 14th. UA acquired the ALMA prototype antenna at the end of March 2013, with the signing of the transfer agreement under which UA agreed to move the antenna from the site and provide ESO astronomers with observing time over a 5 year period.

Dr Ziurys stated that the move from the VLA site in New Mexico to Kitt Peak went very smoothly, despite low highway overpasses, overhanging holiday decorations, and  a few protruding rock formations – a  result of a great team effort between the mover, Precision Heavy Haul, the crane company, Marco Crane (both of Phoenix Arizona), ARO and Steward ETS.  In particular, Steve Warner, Project Manager, Nick Emerson, Mechanical Engineer, and Tom Folkers, ARO Site Manager, should be acknowledged for their contributions. Additional assistance was provided by NRAO Socorro, KPNO, European Industrial Engineering (EIE), European Southern Observatory (ESO), the National Science Foundation, the many police and transportation agencies along the route, and the Tohono O’Odham Nation. Dr. Ziurys also thanked Buell Jannuzi/Jeff Kingsley, Director/Associate Director of Steward Observatory and the UA administration for facilitating the acquisition of this state-of-the-art mm/submm antenna.

With the basic move successfully accomplished, Phase 2 of the project will begin in January. This phase will involve re-commissioning the antenna, installing ARO instrumentation, and beginning astronomical observations. The previous telescope was de-commissioned in April 2013 to prepare the site for new antenna. It is planned to begin initial tests of the new antenna by late spring 2014 and to restore full time observations in the fall.  More images of the move are available on the ARO website:

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