In 2013, the ALMA telescope will use all of its eyes to take its first collective gaze of the sky, becoming the world's most powerful millimeter/submillimeter telescope.
The 16 telescopes from Japan will be rooted on their pads in the heart of the array.
Surrounding them will be at least 50 moveable telescopes built by American and European partners. Across the plain, an additional 126 empty pads will offer different positions for ALMA's moveable telescopes, changing how the array views the sky.
At its smallest size, ALMA will be 492 feet (150 m) across. The largest distance that ALMA's eye can extend is 11 miles (18 km).
When the telescopes are closer together, ALMA is more sensitive, able to show us the plumes of gas pouring out of active galaxies, the signatures of gas and dust surrounding new stars, and giant clouds of exotic molecules in nearby galaxies.
In larger configurations, ALMA will see the gritty details, such as black holes spinning deep inside active galaxies, the telltale signs of planets forming around other suns, and galaxies forming at the beginning of the Universe.
Animation credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)