System engineering of the atacama large millimeter/submillimeter array

Ravinder Javier, William Snow, Masahiro Sugimoto, Richard Sramek, Maurizio Miccolis, Koh Ichiro Morita, Demián Arancibia, Andrea Araya, Shin'ichiro Asayama, Denis Barkats, Rodrigo Brito, William Brundage, Wes Grammer, Christoph Haupt, Herve Kurlandczyk, Norikazu Mizuno, Peter Napier, Eduardo Pizarro, Kamaljeet Saini, Gretchen StahlmanGianluca Verzichelli, Nick Whyborn, Pavel Yagoubov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) will be composed of 66 high precision antennae located at 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile. This paper will present the methodology, tools and processes adopted to system engineer a project of high technical complexity, by system engineering teams that are remotely located and from different cultures, and in accordance with a demanding schedule and within tight financial constraints. The technical and organizational complexity of ALMA requires a disciplined approach to the definition, implementation and verification of the ALMA requirements. During the development phase, System Engineering chairs all technical reviews and facilitates the resolution of technical conflicts. We have developed analysis tools to analyze the system performance, incorporating key parameters that contribute to the ultimate performance, and are modeled using best estimates and/or measured values obtained during test campaigns. Strict tracking and control of the technical budgets ensures that the different parts of the system can operate together as a whole within ALMA boundary conditions. System Engineering is responsible for acceptances of the thousands of hardware items delivered to Chile, and also supports the software acceptance process. In addition, System Engineering leads the troubleshooting efforts during testing phases of the construction project. Finally, the team is conducting System level verification and diagnostics activities to assess the overall performance of the observatory. This paper will also share lessons learned from these system engineering and verification approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationModeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy V
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventModeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy V - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: Jul 1 2012Jul 3 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceModeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy V

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • ALMA
  • Engineering
  • System


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