Press Release

CARMA Groundbreaking Set for March 27

By SpaceRef Editor
March 25, 2004
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PASADENA, Calif.-Groundbreaking for the Combined Array for Research
in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA) facility is set for 2 p.m. on
Saturday, March 27, at Cedar Flat in the Inyo Mountains near Bishop,
California. The media is invited to attend. Buses will be provided
from the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) to the new CARMA

CARMA is a joint venture of the California Institute of Technology,
the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Maryland. Creating the
new CARMA site will involve moving the six existing 10-meter
telescopes at Caltech’s OVRO millimeter-wave array, along with the
nine 6-meter telescopes at the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association
(BIMA) array, to the new Cedar Flat location.

According to Anneila Sargent, CARMA director, the greatest advantage
of relocating the telescopes to Cedar Flat is the dry air at the
altitude of 7,300 feet, which is almost twice as high as the present
OVRO and BIMA array locations.

More telescopes, innovative technology, and better atmospheric
transmission make CARMA a much more powerful instrument than the
present arrays, says Sargent, who is also a professor of astronomy at
Caltech. The facility will be used to observe molecular gas and dust
in planets, star-forming clouds, planet-forming disks around other
stars, nearby galaxies, and galaxies so distant that they must have
formed soon after the Big Bang.

“These measurements will enable studies that address directly some of
the most important questions in astrophysics today,” says Sargent.
“These include how the modern universe and the first stars and
galaxies formed and evolved, how stars and planetary systems like our
own are formed, and what the chemistry of the interstellar gas can
tell us about the origins of life.”

The new array will be operated by the CARMA Association, which
comprises the four partner universities. The association will
coordinate the separate activities of its members through a board of
representatives that includes senior administrators from each partner
university and the CARMA science steering committee, made up of an
equal number of scientists from Caltech and from BIMA.

Board members are Thomas Tombrello, division chair for physics,
mathematics and astronomy at Caltech, who is currently board
chairman; R. James Kirkpatrick, executive associate dean, college of
liberal arts and sciences, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign; Stephen Halperin, dean of computer, mathematical
and physical sciences, University of Maryland; and Mark Richards,
dean of physical sciences, UC Berkeley. Professor Leo Blitz of UC
Berkeley is chair of the science steering committee, which also
includes the other principal investigators, Anneila Sargent, Lewis
Snyder of the University of Illinois, and Stuart Vogel of the
University of Maryland. In addition to the board’s appointment of
Sargent as director, it has also appointed Caltech astronomer Anthony
Beasley as CARMA project manager.

As a multi-university facility, CARMA also has a major educational
mission. Innovative astronomy and technical development programs will
ensure that the next generation of radio astronomers and
instrumentalists will receive hands-on training while conducting
front-line research. The National Science Foundation has supported
both the OVRO and BIMA arrays since their inception, and will
continue to support CARMA operations. Construction costs for the new
combined array are being divided equally among the NSF, Caltech, and
BIMA, and astronomers around the world will have access to the

SpaceRef staff editor.