National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Site Studies
Atacama Large Millimeter Array/US

High Altitude

At 5000 m (16500 ft), the altitude of the proposed MMA site near Cerro Chajnantor, Chile, the atmospheric pressure is about half what it is at sea level. As a result, the oxygen concentration in the blood is lower than at sea level, despite increased respiration. Depending on the individual, the physiological effect of the resulting hypoxia can range from mild unpleasantness to serious illness.

Reading list for travellers to high altitude, including required reading for NRAO personnel.

MMA Memos that address aspects of operating an observatory at high altitude:

Feasibility Study of the Use of the White Mountain Research Station (WMRS) Laboratory to Measure the Effects of 27% Oxygen Enrichment at 5000 m Altitude on Human Cognitive Function (West, Powell, & Luks 1997)
Medical and Physiological Considerations for a High-Altitude MMA Site (Napier & West 1996)

Bibliography of High-Altitude Medicine and Physiology

High altitude travel can be dangerous. These references are intended only for information. They should not be construed as medical advice. Consult a physician regarding any specific medical conditions or questions and before taking any medications. NRAO does not offer medical advice.

Last modified 2000 January 10
Simon Radford