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B. Butler, A. Wootten (NRAO)
The next generation millimeter to submillimeter wavelength synthesis telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), will be an excellent instrument for solar and extrasolar system studies. Once ALMA is equipped with receivers of the expected performance, and given the expected quality of the antennas and the measured quality of the chosen site (at 5000m in northern Chile), the sensitivity of the instrument will be fantastic - better than 1 K in 1 minute at millimeter wavelengths in all but the most spread out configuration, and better than 5 K in 1 minute even in that configuration. The resolution of ALMA will be as good as 15 milliarcseconds, allowing for linear resolutions of 10 km at 1 AU distance. With this sensitivity and resolution, a new era of solar and extrasolar system studies based on observations in this wavelength region will be enabled. The continuum capability of the instrument will allow for high spatial and time resolution maps of surface and near-surface temperature on the solid bodies of the solar system, and will allow for detailed mapping of dust in cometary atmospheres and protoplanetary disks. Young giant planets could be directly detected out to many parsecs, and very young giant protoplanets should be directly detected in the nearest star forming regions. In addition to direct detections, astrometric techniques (via reflex motion of the star) are expected to provide detections of many planetary systems. The spectral line capability of the instrument will allow for the observation of multiple molecular species in planetary and cometary atmospheres and protoplanetary disks, providing temperature and wind (for the atmospheres) profiles at high spatial and time resolution and clues as to the chemistry in these places.