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LMT: Large Millimeter Telescope

Link to LMT Web site

I. General project/facility description

  1. Overview of the facility/project
    The Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) Project is the joint effort of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica, y Electrónica (INAOE) in Mexico. The LMT is a 50m diameter millimeter-wave telescope designed for principal operation at wavelengths between 1mm and 4mm. The telescope is being built atop Sierra Negra, a volcanic peak in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Site construction and fabrication of most of the major antenna parts is underway, with telescope construction expected to be complete in 2007.

    The Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory (FCRAO) is a Research Group in Radio Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Its present telescope is the 14m millimeter wave antenna which has been in operation since 1976. The 50m Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) will be the FCRAO's next telescope. In this report, past discussions report on the success of the 14m telescope.

    Located at a high (15000 ft) dry site in Mexico at latitude +19°, the LMT will be instrumented for continuum and spectroscopic mapping covering the wavelength range from from 4mm to 0.8mm. The Sierra Negra site was selected in 1997 following radiometric site tests at a number of potential mountain top sites in Mexico. The 19° latitude was a significant factor in the site selection, and the LMT's coverage of the southern sky will be very good, with the Galactic center culminating at an elevation of about 45°. The site is at a very high elevation (4600m). The atmospheric opacity, as measured by a 225 GHz tipping radiometer, is low for most of the year. Observations within the 3mm band are expected year round while 1mm measurements may be limited to the winter months.

    The 1.3 mm atmospheric window contains many important diagnostics of the physical conditions in the interstellar medium of galactic and extragalactic sources, and the LMT has been designed to work well in this wavelength band.

  2. Managing institution and organization
    Between 1994 and 2004, the LMT construction was managed jointly by UMass and the INAOE. An Executive Management Team (EMT), comprised of three members from each institution, provided general oversight to the project. Institutional oversight was provided by a Principal Investigator for each country, while day-to-day operations were supervised by two Project Managers, one at UMass and one at INAOE. Two Project Scientists provided scientific oversight.

    In January 2005, the management responsibility transitioned from the separate construction project offices at UM-Amherst and INAOE to the Large Millimeter Telescope Observatory (LMTO). The LMTO is charged with the operation and maintenance of the the LMT. It is a Mexican Civil Association, formed by UM-Amherst and INAOE as partners. Detailed plans for the operation of the LMTO are still under development. It is foreseen that the LMTO will be an institutional collaboration between UM-Amherst and INAOE under a project agreement between the institutions which will covers the activities of collaboration and decides what counts as a contribution to the project.

    The LMTO will be governed by a board with membership determined according to the contributions of the partner institutions. The LMTO Board will provide oversight and advice to a director who will manage the staff and day-to-day activities.

  3. Funding source(s)
    Current funding: University Radio Observatories (URO) Program in NSF-AST. Expected budget for 2005-6: $2.3M.

  4. Construction history and cost
    LMT has expended or committed approximately $111M USD as of mid-2004. Project needs to raise an additional $15-20M to complete the basic telescope. This estimate of additional funding only counts telescope construction costs and does not include completion of instruments or commissioning.

    LMT Timeline:
  5. Operational history and cost
    Future facility.

    It is anticipated that partial support for the LMT operations will come from NSF under the AST University Radio Observatories Program. Such funds will support:

II. Technical details

  1. Specifics of telescope/instrument

III. User profile

  1. % of "open skies" time
    Use of LMT by US Astronomers

  2. Institutional affiliations of users
    Future facility: NYA.

    14m Telescope users during the period Nov03 to May04 came from 14 institutions plus U. Mass. In addition, there were users from 11 institutions in Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Korea.

  3. Student access, involvement, usage
    Students from UMass and elsewhere have been heavily involved in the operation and use of the 14m telescope. At least 55 PhDs have been awarded to U.Mass. radio astronomy graduate students.

IV. Science Overview

  1. Current forefront scientific programs
    Future facility:NA

    On-going key projects/surveys with the 14m Telescope

  2. Major discoveries (through 1999)
    Future facility:NA

    Science Highlights with the 14m Telescope:

    Major Surveys with the 14m Telescope:

  3. Science highlights of last 5 years
    Future facility:NA

    Science Highlights with the 14m Telescope:

  4. Main future science questions to be addressed

  5. Synergies with other major forefront facilities

  6. Unique contributions

    Year of Operation 2006 2006 2007 2008 2012
    Sensitivity to Point Sources
  7. Line (3mm)
  8. Continuum (1mm)




    Sensitivity to Extended Emission
    Line (3mm; 12" resolution)
    Continuum (1mm; 6" res.)




    Mapping Speed (Point Sources)
    Line (3mm)
    Continuum (1mm)





    Mapping Speed (Extended Emission)
    Line (3mm)
    Continuum (1mm)






    LMT compares favorably with ALMA and will compete with ALMA as the best place for certain experiments.

V. Education/Outreach activities

  1. Visitor facility
    Significant community outreach activities already take place in Mexico with staff participation in local events and lectures. Planning is underway for a LMT Visitor Center. The "LMT Book" will be available in early 2005.

  2. Student programs
    Training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows
    Summer undergraduate research opportunities at FCRAO (typically 3-4 students/year)

  3. Other (as apply)
    Bi-national collaboration between U.S. and Mexico that fosters scientific and technical exchange

VI. Documentation/website URLs

  1. URL of facility website

  2. URL of EPO website

  3. URL(s) of any brief overviews of project/facility

This page created and maintained for the RMSPG by Martha Haynes Last modified: Mark Heyer Wed Feb 10 23:13:00 EST 2005