The ACA at night.  Credit: ESO/S. Otalora.
The ACA at night.
Credit: ESO/S. Otalora.


ALMA Status Update from the Joint ALMA Observatory

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the global community, including ALMA users and staff. The decisions taken regarding the status of Cycle 7 and Cycle 8 are as follows:

  • The start of ALMA Cycle 8 has been postponed until 2021 October. It is anticipated that the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again in 2021 March.
  • ALMA Cycle 7 will continue through 2021 September, with currently non-completed projects ranked A, B and C remaining in the observing queue.

While ALMA operations remain suspended, we have been working actively on plans to restart operations at a time that it is feasible. In these unprecedented circumstances, ALMA’s first priority is the health and safety of all our staff, many of whom travel long distances by bus and plane to reach the remote ALMA telescope site in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. At this time, and given the current evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak in Chile, it is unclear when a ramp-up to start operations could begin, or when a restart of science operations will be possible. ALMA is working on guidelines and considerations for the restart of operations and will provide a next update to the community in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Caretaker teams continue to maintain the safety of the ALMA equipment and infrastructure in both Santiago and in San Pedro, while all other staff continue to work remotely from their homes. The Regional ARCs continue to provide support to their communities. If you have any questions, comments or concerns related to the situation at ALMA, please contact the ALMA Helpdesk at


Research Associate at the UK ARC Node

Official Advertisement

Job reference: SAE-15503

Closing date:13 July 2020

Salary: £32,816 to £40,322 per annum (according to relevant experience)

Contract Duration: 2 Years commencing 20 July 2020 with the possibility of extension

The UK ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) Node at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics invites applications for a postdoctoral research associate position to work as a support astronomer for UK users of the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA). The ARC Node is funded by STFC to support the UK astronomical community to exploit the UK’s investment in the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) and is a leading member of the European ALMA Regional Centre network led by the ESO. You will spend 75% of your time as part of the ARC Node team supporting astronomers planning ALMA observations, acquiring and processing data as well as contributing to the continued development of ALMA. You will undertake your own independent research program focused on ALMA science for the remaining 25% of their time.

See the official advertisement for more details, including links to the application submission form, contact information, and statements on equality and diversity.


ALMA Archive Use

While the operations at ALMA remain suspended, the UK ARC Node would like to remind community of the wealth of data available in the ALMA Archive and encourage its use. ALMA has been in science operations for almost 9 years, meaning a huge number of astrophysical objects have ALMA data publicly available. The archive can be accessed at and contains the following downloadable data products:

  • Archival image products, suitable for some science cases and as a first look at the programs observations.
  • Raw data that can be reprocessed using by the user with the associated scripts from the archive.

Upon request from UK ALMA users, the UK ARC Node can provide fully calibrated measurements sets, ready for imaging, for entire or parts of ALMA projects. These products can be hosted in Manchester and can be made available for an amount of time agreed upon between the ARC Node and the user. Assistance with imaging ALMA data is also available from the UK ARC Node upon request. Please see the below news item on the UK ARC Node's current remote support provisions.

Alternately, the EU ARC at ESO provides, upon request, a service to create and stage fully calibrated ALMA data of individual measurement observation unit sets (MOUSs), with up to 10 MOUSs per request. An MOUS is a single execution of a projects scheduling block. This webpage provides instructions on accessing the service.


Extension of Proprietary Times

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the global astronomical community, the ALMA Director has made the following decision regarding proprietary times of ALMA data sets.

The proprietary period of all MOUSs that have been delivered to principle investigators (PIs), but have not become public by 19 March 2020, will be extended by three months. This implies that the proprietary period of all these ALMA data will effectively be set to 15 months, or nine months for DDT projects. 19 March was the last day that ALMA was observing before Cycle 7 observations were suspended.

For data sets that already reached the end of the proprietary time between March 19 and today, the proprietary time will be reinstated and extended for an additional 3 months. Please be aware that ALMA cannot guarantee that these data sets have not already been downloaded by archive users.

PIs of data sets that do not fall in the category defined above, who feel that their ability to work on their data within the regular proprietary period is impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, are requested to submit a ticket to the “Proprietary Period Extension Requests” Department of the ALMA Helpdesk. ALMA will handle these requests in a fair and lenient manner as we are committed to support our users as much as possible during this stressful time.

Updates on this policy may be posted on the Science Portal in the future.


Remote support during the current COVID-19 outbreak

With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the UK ARC Node will be providing remote / electronic support to users only for the next several weeks. This is in compliance with local recommendations at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. A full statement regard operations of Jodrell Bank, e-MERLIN and the JBCA can be found here.

If you require user support in the coming weeks, we are contactable via the usual means (see our contact information page) and can provide a range of electronic support options to help you with your ALMA requirements.