Chile to Unveil World's Most Powerful Telescope

Created: 2013-03-15 15:58 EST

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Scientists and engineers prepared on Tuesday for the official unveiling of the world's most powerful observatory, the ALMA telescope.

Situated in Chile’s Atacama desert, ALMA been functioning at limited capacity since 2011.

[Giannini Marconi, Scientist]:
"It's a milestone because it's the largest observatory built in the world up until now.”

The $1.3 billion ALMA observatory promises to probe deeper into space than any other telescope.

[Thijs de Graauw, Director of ALMA]:
"We're celebrating that we have more than 50 antennas in operation. We took that number because to have all 66 finished could take a little bit longer because you know the end of the project is very hard to sharply plan and define.”

ALMA will allow astronomers to study wavelengths invisible to the human eye, according to ALMA officials.

When functioning at full capacity, the telescope will produce images up to ten times sharper than NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

It will study light from the coldest and darkest corners of the universe, where galaxies are formed and stars are born.

The high altitude and clear, cloudless skies of the Atacama desert provide the ideal conditions for observation.