Wish You Were Here?
French photographer Serge Brunier — one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors — has created this seamless 360-degree panorama of the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert, where the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is under construction.
The 360-degree view gives a sense of what it would be like to stand in the middle of this impressive new observatory. It demonstrates the complete isolation of the Chajnantor plateau; at an altitude of 5000 metres, the backdrop is almost featureless, except for a few mountain peaks and hilltops.
The high altitude location is perfect for submillimetre astronomy. That’s because water vapour in the atmosphere absorbs this type of radiation, but the air is much drier at high altitude sites such as Chajnantor.