This Truck Carries 66 100-Ton Antennas To A 16,000-Foot Elevation

Illustration for article titled This Truck Carries 66 100-Ton Antennas To A 16,000-Foot Elevation

Installing 66 gargantuan antennae necessary to survey the furthest reaches of the universe from a 16,000-foot high plateau in Chile is no easy job. But this purpose-built truck's been designed to do exactly that. Gallery below.

Due to the harsh conditions experienced at such an extreme elevation, the 40-foot antennas have to be assembled 17 miles away then trucked to their new home across the Chilean desert. This truck — one of two — nicknamed "Otto" (we're assuming it's got something to do with the Stephen King short story "Uncle Otto's Truck") — lifts the antennas onto its own back, takes 7 hours to make the trip, then precisely installs them onto concrete foundations using lasers for precise alignment. We're told

"The ALMA antenna transporter is motorised by 2 powerful engines of 500 kW each - i.e. as much as twice a Formula 1 engine - that drive individually each of the 28 wheels. These powerful engines are necessary to climb the 10% slopes that exists on the Chajnantor site and to bring the 240 tons of the vehicle and antenna from the 2900m high base camp to the observing site at 5000m altitude. The transporter has on board a power generator to keep the antenna and its cryogenic systems alive while being transported. "


[Alma Observatory via Wired]

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Diesels, I assume turbos. Driving up a 28km (dirt?) road with an average slope of 7%. Special brakes for going downhill for max slopes of 10%. Special seating to accomodate an oxygen tank for the driver. 1700Hp motors which put out only 860HP at the high altitudes. I'd have liked to see one in action, but this vid is still pretty informative.