Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) Database

The ALMA project, based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in Harwell Oxfordshire, is an international collaboration between Europe, East Asia and North America in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. It is one of the largest ground-based astronomy projects of recent years and is a major facility for observationalists who conduct their work at millimetre/submillimetre wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.


ALMA required an inventory control database for tracking the progress of items provided by the project for integration into a Front End. The Front End assembly is a cryogenically cooled ten band receiver being built from various parts that are shipped from different suppliers after testing to South America. The software solution needed to be capable of running on a range of systems via web browsers and cover several different stages.

The software system had to be able to identify the various pieces of hardware by numerous methods like shipping notification, serial number, description and supplier. The hardware needed to be tested upon arrival at its destination and they wanted the system to provide hyperlinks to reports that have been generated from this testing process.

After being placed into storage, which will also need to be recorded in the database application, the hardware can be integrated into the Front End and it will be vital that the exact build standard of each front end is recorded.

the solution

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University of Oxford, Department of Physics International Association of Hydrogeologists