Getting started with ALMA

ALMA is currently performing observations for Cycle 7, which began in October 2019 and will end in September 2020. A call for proposals for Cycle 8 will be issued in March 2020, with a submission deadline in April 2020. ESO and the ARC nodes provide extensive user support to handle observations, from the proposal submission stage through to downloading the data. This page lists the documents and tools you'll need to start planning your proposal and prepare the files necessary for the observations. If you're new to ALMA, don't wait until the next call for proposals is officially isused : start reading the documentation now to be ready to prepare your proposal as easily as possible.


Proposing for ALMA observations

Instructions for users

Information about proposals for the current cycle, instructions on how to prepare proposals (note that these do vary from cycle to cycle), guides and manuals.

ALMA Cycle 7 Proposer’s Guide

Contains all the information you could ever want to know about the current ALMA Call for Proposals.


Tools and software

ALMA Observing Tool (OT)

The ALMA Observing Tool (OT) is a Java application used for the preparation and submission of ALMA Phase 1 (observing proposal) and Phase 2 (telescope runfiles for accepted proposals) materials. Here you can find detailed instructions on how to install and work with the OT.

Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA)

This is the official package for processing of single-dish and interferometric radio data from ALMA and VLA and has extensive documentation. For ALMA-specific guides and tutorials see this link. CASA was developed by an international consortium of scientists based at the National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), the CSIRO division for Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) under the guidance of NRAO.

ALMA Solar Ephemeris Generator

The ALMA Solar Ephemeris Generator is used to generate ephemeris files in JPL Horizons format for importing into the ALMA Observing Tool when preparing ALMA solar proposals. For Phase I proposals, a dummy ephemeris file can be used. The actual ephemeris file for the selected target will be needed before the actual observation. If the above link does not work, try this one instead.


The Snooping Project Interface (SnooPI) is a new software tool that allows PIs, Co-Is and Delegees to track the observational and processing status of their ALMA science projects.


Reference information

ALMA Science Portal

The ALMA Science Portal is a one-stop source for information and tools aimed at the scientific community as a whole, including proposers, archive researchers, ALMA staff, journalists, and funding agencies.

ALMA Cycle 6 Technical Handbook

A comprehensive description of the ALMA observatory and its components, with a short introduction to radio interferometry.


User support


Stuck ? Try the knowledgebase : a list of the most commonly asked questions regarding ALMA project preparation, observation and data reduction.

Solar FAQs

A list of frequently asked questions regarding ALMA project preparation, observation and data reduction specifically for solar observing.


Still didn't find an answer to your ALMA project related question? If you're an ALMA user, you can login in the helpdesk using your ALMA account and ask the community for help.