This 30m radio telescope is one of the two observatories of the IRAM. This institute is a collaboration between the French CNRS, the German MPG and the IGN.
Uilt in only four years (1980-1984) at an altitude of 2,850 meters at Pico Veleta (Sierra Nevada, Granada), it is currently one of the largest and most sensitive millimetre-wave radio telescopes in the world.
The telescope itself is a classic parabolic antenna that enables the exploration of extensive cosmic objects such as near galaxies and interstellar clouds. Thanks to its large collecting surface, the 30 m telescope is unrivalled in sensitivity and has been very well adapted to detect weak astronomical sources. The panels of its parabola are calibrated with a precision of 55 micrometres in relation to an ideal paraboloid. The radio telescope is equipped with a series of receptors that operate at wavelengths of around 3, 2, 1, and 0.8 mm, simultaneously recording up to 160,000 channels of a high-resolution frequency, for the mapping of molecular gas in extensive nebulas. The telescope is also equipped with two cameras that operate at wavelengths of 2 and 1mm, devoted to the observation of the emission of dust in near molecular clouds and in galaxies, including the farthest (and youngest) galaxies in the known universe.