Friday, February 27, 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
KEC 1001

Speaker Information

Michael Thorburn
Former Head
ALMA Department of Engineering & Joint ALMA Observatory Project Manager (Presently at DIRECTV)


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) has completed the construction the largest and most capable earth-based astronomical project in the world. The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is located at five kilometers above sea level in the Andes Mountains in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. ALMA operates from 30 to 950 GHz and its ability to make precise measurements of millimeter-wave radiation over a number of bands across this range enables astronomers to accurately target those observations needed to understand the physically cooler objects in the universe. It is the unique combination of very high precision reflector antennas, with custom high-performance millimeter-wave feed and receiver technologies, and very high-speed signal processing technologies enable ALMA to make these truly remarkable and significant contributions. In this presentation, an overview of project with an emphasis on some of the technologies of greatest interest to the IEEE Antenna & Propagation Society members will be presented.

Speaker Bio

Michael Thorburn was Head of the ALMA Department of Engineering from 2011 through 2013 and was the Joint ALMA Observatory Project Manager from 2012 through 2013. In those roles, he was responsible for overall coordination of the construction and commissioning activities that were conducted together with the North American, European and Japanese Project Managers and for optimizing and implementing the engineering operation including all radio-telescope systems and infrastructure. Michael presently is a Sr. Director of Communications Systems Engineering at DIRECTV within the Space and Communications Group. He has a broad range of experience from the space science and aerospace engineering sectors in the United States, including several years at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Space Systems/Loral.