A European collaboration

On June 28, 2011, an exceptional IRAM Executive Council was held at the Instituto Geogràfico Nacional in Madrid. During this celebratory meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the IRAM Partners (the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, the German Max Planck Gesellschaft and the Spanish Instituto Geografico Nacional) and the institute itself. The Partners were represented by Martin Stratmann, Vice-President of the MPG, Alberto Sereno Àlvarez, Director General of IGN and Michel Kochoyan, President of the "Comité Très Grands Equipements" at the CNRS.

The signatories expressed their common wish to extend their successful cooperation in running IRAM through the end of 2024. In addition, The Memorandum of Understanding states:

  • That this extension shall include an extension of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer to a facility called the Northern Extended Millimeter Array or NOEMA. This will involve doubling the existing numbers of antennas, to implement new broad band receivers with much higher sensitivity and doubling the east-west baseline of the interferometer.
  • That the NOEMA project will start with a Phase I that includes the construction of a set of 4 antennas with receivers and a new correlator
  • That for Phase II of NOEMA (two more antennas and extension of the baselines), the Partners will actively strive to find an additional financial Partner.

The signature of this document represents a milestone in the history of IRAM. Combined with on-going developments in technology, NOEMA will allow investigation on an entirely new level the fundamental and challenging issues of modern astronomy. It will be the most sensitive millimeter array in the northern hemisphere and a key partner to ALMA.