PASADENA, Calif.-The California Institute of Technology announces a
$2.5 million award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to
support the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy

CARMA will allow significant advances in the areas of astronomy and
astrophysics. The combined array will become a frontline instrument
for innovative research into the formation of galaxies, stars,
planets, and the origins of life.

At the increased level of instrumental sensitivity envisaged, CARMA
will allow researchers to “see” almost to the edge of the universe, a
few billion years after the Big Bang, and also to search comets,
planet-forming disks, and the interstellar medium for chemical clues
regarding the formation of complex organic molecules from which life
may originate.

CARMA is a collaboration between Caltech and the University of
California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and the
University of Maryland. It will merge the six 10.4-millimeter
antenna telescopes of Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO)
array with the nine 6.1-millimeter antenna telescopes of the
Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) array, on a
high-elevation 7,200-foot site at Cedar Flat in the Inyo Mountains
near Big Pine, California.

First light is anticipated this fall and full operation in 2006.

The Moore Foundation grant will be used for relocation of the 15
antennas to Cedar Flat; construction of a control center; antenna
pads; associated infrastructure; design and construction of a
telescope transporter; development of state-of-the-art electronics
and software; and other enhancements to ensure the successful
integration into a single system for optimal performance.

Relocation to the Cedar Flat high-elevation site will allow
atmospheric transparency that is a factor of two greater than at the
existing OVRO Observatory. With the improved atmospheric conditions,
more telescopes, and updated electronics, the new facility will have
10 times the sensitivity and imaging speed of the current
instruments. Shorter wavelength observations and resulting higher
angular resolution will also be increased through the improved
atmospheric transmission. With the new array’s merged complement of
OVRO and BIMA antennas, CARMA’s imaging fidelity will be unsurpassed.
Its unique ability to provide sensitive observations over a wide
range of angular scales will enable scientific research not possible
with any other existing instrument.

According to Anneila Sargent, Rosen Professor of Astronomy and
director of OVRO and CARMA, “CARMA builds on the pioneering technical
and scientific achievements of the OVRO and BIMA arrays over the last
20 years. Millimeter-wave emission from molecular gas and dust has
opened a critical window on the formation of stars, planets, and
galaxies, and results from these arrays are increasingly intriguing.
CARMA, with its improved sensitivity and imaging power, will allow us
to make significant advances and to remain at the forefront of
astronomical research and discovery.”

Sargent continues, “While CARMA will ensure our ability to undertake
cutting-edge research, it will also serve a critical role as a
university instrument. This new merged array will encourage the
exploration of new technologies and techniques and will be a key
component in training the next generation of U.S. millimeter-wave
radio astronomers.”

Sargent concludes, “If someone asks me these days, ‘How’s your
karma?’, I tell them, ‘My CARMA is good!'”

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