SETIS - ALMA Project - Grenoble
SETIS - ALMA Project - Grenoble

Dynamic measurement of the ALMA project antenna settings

The activity sectors covered by SETIS are a reflection of a will to diversify whilst at the same time staying close to the basic professions: the nuclear, aerospace, automobile or research and development industries. SETIS has in its portfolio clients as notable as Airbus, DACIA, EDF, CERN or AREVA and is responsible for the follow up of projects as prestigious as LHC, ITER or the ATV project.

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is a project which consists of building an interferometric network of 66 mobile radiotelescopes located in Chile on a plateau of the Atacama desert at an altitude of 5100 m. Detailed and sustained measurements have revealed that the sky above the Atacama desert presents unique conditions of transparency and stability. ALMA will enable studying stars, galaxies and other objects in the universe by collecting the "light" they emit with millimetric and sub-millimetric waves. ALMA will be a unique instrument in the sense where it will enable producing detailed images, both in continuum and ray spectrum, of galaxies in formation, stars, planets, and interstellar clouds containing the chemical composites necessary for life to develop.

Its approximate budget of one billion Euros is distributed between Europe (by means of the ESO), the United States (by means of NRAO) and Japan (by means of the NAOJ). These are some of ALMA‘s main research topics:

  • The study of the young universe by means of observing distant galaxies
  • The study of star formation by means of observing molecular clouds (such as Orion for example)
  • The study of planet formation
  • The quest for exoplanets by astrometry

The study of the solar system based on the study of dust and the atmospheres of different planets such as Mars and Venus (the latter topic will enable having a better idea of their atmospheric dynamic or detecting the existence of water for example).

Each antenna is a parabolic dish 12 m in diameter, 22 m in height, which weighs 115 tonnes and can resist a temperature varying between -20°C and +20°C.

Different supporting projects
The company SETIS has been entrusted with different supporting projects within the scope of the European part of the project that includes the manufacture of 25 antennae by the AEM consortium (Thalès, EIE and MT-Mechatronics). During the initial manufacture phase of antenna prototypes, the challenge was both the carbon assembly of the cabin in addition to the antenna itself, on the test site in New Mexico. The assembly project by measuring the different aspects of the antenna carbon structures consisted of measuring carbon domes for mechanical joining to the panel that serves as an antenna. No less than 2560 mechanical interfaces have to be set! SETIS‘ mission was to look for the most adapted measurement . . . . .

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