Workers strike at world's largest radio telescope

Aug 22, 2013
In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, radio antennas are spread out on the terrain as part of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chajnator in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Workers at the world's largest radio telescope are staging a strike to demand a 15 percent salary increase and benefits to compensate for the high altitude and isolation they endure at their jobs. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)

Workers at the world's largest radio telescope went on strike Thursday to demand better pay and working conditions.

The work stoppage began after union workers failed to reach an agreement with Associated Universities Inc., which employs the Chilean staff.

Nearly 200 striking workers are demanding a 15 percent salary increase as well as benefits to compensate for the high altitude and isolation they endure.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, is on a remote plateau above Chile's Atacama desert some 16,400-feet (5,000-meter) above sea level. Workers are exposed to strong winds, thin air and severe temperature drops.

It's the lack of humidity and low interference from other radio signals that make it the perfect spot for ALMA, which reaches farther than any other radio telescope.

ALMA searches for clues about the dawn of the cosmos, from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed to the energy produced by the Big Bang. The $1.4 billion project is jointly funded by the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.

Explore further: Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

Related Stories

Another amazing ALMA result

May 30, 2013

Observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed some of the most distant and actively star forming galaxies in our universe, thanks to an effect called gravitational lensing, which ...

Recommended for you

Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

17 hours ago

Dartmouth astrophysicists and their colleagues have not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn't supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were ...

Image: Thor's Helmet nebula in the X-ray spectrum

Apr 20, 2015

This brightly coloured scene shows a giant cloud of glowing gas and dust known as NGC 2359. This is also dubbed the Thor's Helmet nebula, due to the arching arms of gas stemming from the central bulge and ...

Cosmologically complicating dust

Apr 20, 2015

The universe was created 13.7 billion years ago in a blaze of light: the big bang. Roughly 380,000 years later, after matter (mostly hydrogen) had cooled enough for neutral atoms to form, light was able to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.