The European ALMA Regional Centre: a model of user support
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V
The ALMA Regional Centres (ARCs) form the interface between the ALMA observatory and the user community from the proposal preparation stage to the delivery of data and their subsequent analysis. The ARCs provide critical services to both the ALMA operations in Chile and to the user community. These services were split by the ALMA project into core and additional services. The core services are financed by the ALMA operations budget and are critical to the successful operation of ALMA. They are
... of ALMA. They are contractual obligations and must be delivered to the ALMA project. The additional services are not funded by the ALMA project and are not contractual obligations, but are critical to achieve ALMA full scientific potential. In Europe a distributed network of ARC nodes (with ESO being the central ARC) has been set up at the following seven locations: Bologna, Bonn-Cologne, Grenoble, Leiden, Manchester, Ondrejov, Onsala. These ARC nodes are working together with the central node at ESO and provide both core and additional services to the ALMA user community. This paper presents the European ARC, and how it operates in Europe to support the ALMA community. This model, although complex in nature, is turning into a very successful one, providing a service to the scientific community that so far has been highly appreciated. The ARC could become a reference support model in an age where very large collaborations are required to build large facilities, and support is needed for geographically and culturally diverse communities.