The world's most powerful radio telescope will let scientists watch planets as they are being born around alien stars, astronomers have said ahead of its official inauguration.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (Alma) is a giant, 66-telescope instrument located in Northern Chile.

Spread over 16 square kilometers, at an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, the telescope is able to peer beyond Earth's atmosphere with greater clarity than any other Earth-bound observatory.

The telescope's antennas are mounted on wheels, and can be moved to focus on different objects. Scientists working there have to wear oxygen masks because the atmosphere is so thin.

And while it isn't officially opened until 13 March, it sounds like the effort has been worth it - Alma is already working and able to give us new insights into the incredible variety of deep space.

In a news conference, scientists said they hope to be able to literally watch the formation of planets in the cold dust surrounding new stars.

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  • Chilean scientists stand by a radio tele

    Chilean scientists stand by a radio telescope antenna of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project, in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on September 30, 2011. The ALMA, an international partnership project of Europe, North America and East Asia with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. When finished, it will consistof 66 high precision antennas that will work as a single telescope, located at 5000 of altitude in the extremely arid Atacama desert. AFP PHOTO/Martin BERNETTI EMBARGO, RELEASABLE OCTOBER AT 9 GMT - THIS RESTRICTION APPLIES TO ALL MEDIA, INCLUDING WEBSITES (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this Sept. 27, 2012 photo, radio antennas face the sky as part of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chajnator in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Linked as a single giant telescope, the radio antennas pick up wavelengths of light longer than anything visible to the human eye and colder than infrared telescopes, which are good at capturing images of distant suns but miss planets and clouds of gases from which stars are formed. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • This image downloaded from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA, website, show antennae composite of ALMA and Hubble telescopes. Antennae Galaxies are a pair of distorted colliding spiral galaxies about 70 million light-years away, in the constellation of Corvus (The Crow). This view combines ALMA observations, made in two different wavelength ranges during the observatory’s early testing phase, with visible-light observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. ALMA will become the largest and most sensitive radio telescope on the planet when it’s completed in March. (AP Photo/ALMA)

  • This image downloaded from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA, website, that show observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed an unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This feature has never been seen before and is probably caused by a hidden companion star orbiting the star. This slice through the new ALMA data reveals the shell around the star, which shows up as the outer circular ring, as well as a very clear spiral structure in the inner material. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, which will become the largest and most sensitive radio telescope on the planet when it’s completed in March. (AP Photo/ALMA)

  • In this Sept. 26, 2012 photo, the moon shines over radio antennas at the operations support facility of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Linked as a single giant telescope, the radio antennas pick up wavelengths of light longer than anything visible to the human eye and colder than infrared telescopes, which are good at capturing images of distant suns but miss planets and clouds of gases from which stars are formed. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • In this Sept. 26, 2012 photo, painter Iver Osandor, from Chile, climbs a ladder as he works on an antenna at the European assembly site at one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Linked as a single giant telescope, the radio antennas pick up wavelengths of light longer than anything visible to the human eye and colder than infrared telescopes, which are good at capturing images of distant suns but miss planets and clouds of gases from which stars are formed. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • In this Sept. 26, 2012 photo, people work on antennas at the European assembly area at one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Linked as a single giant telescope, the radio antennas pick up wavelengths of light longer than anything visible to the human eye and colder than infrared telescopes, which are good at capturing images of distant suns but miss planets and clouds of gases from which stars are formed. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • In this Sept. 27, 2012 photo, a transporter truck lifts a box that weight as much as an antenna, as part of a transport test at of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) near Chajnator in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. The lack of humidity, low interference from other radio signals and closeness to the upper atmosphere in this remote plateau high above Chile's Atacama desert, is the perfect spot for the ALMA, the earth's largest radio telescope, which is on track to be completed in March. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • In this Sept. 27, 2012 photo, radio antennas face the sky as part of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chajnator in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Linked as a single giant telescope, the radio antennas pick up wavelengths of light longer than anything visible to the human eye and colder than infrared telescopes, which are good at capturing images of distant suns but miss planets and clouds of gases from which stars are formed. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • In this Sept. 26, 2012 photo, Chilean technician Miguel Latquen poses for a picture as he works at the Operations Support Facility of one of the worlds largest astronomy projects, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. The lack of humidity, low interference from other radio signals and closeness to the upper atmosphere in this remote plateau high above Chile's Atacama desert, is the perfect spot for the ALMA, the earth's largest radio telescope, which is on track to be completed in March. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( A

    Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project, in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on October 1, 2011. The ALMA, an international partnership project of Europe, North America and East Asia with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. When finished, it will consistof 66 high precision antennas that will work as a single telescope, located at 5000 of altitude in the extremely arid Atacama desert. AFP PHOTO/Martin BERNETTI EMBARGO, RELEASABLE 3 OCTOBER AT 9 GMT - THIS RESTRICTION APPLIES TO ALL MEDIA, INCLUDING WEBSITES (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( A

    Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project, in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on October 1, 2011. The ALMA, an international partnership project of Europe, North America and East Asia with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. When finished, it will consistof 66 high precision antennas that will work as a single telescope, located at 5000 of altitude in the extremely arid Atacama desert. AFP PHOTO/Martin BERNETTI EMBARGO, RELEASABLE OCTOBER AT 9 GMT - THIS RESTRICTION APPLIES TO ALL MEDIA, INCLUDING WEBSITES (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( A

    Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project, in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on October 1, 2011. The ALMA, an international partnership project of Europe, North America and East Asia with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. When finished, it will consistof 66 high precision antennas that will work as a single telescope, located at 5000 of altitude in the extremely arid Atacama desert. AFP PHOTO/Martin BERNETTI EMBARGO, RELEASABLE 3 OCTOBER AT 9 GMT - THIS RESTRICTION APPLIES TO ALL MEDIA, INCLUDING WEBSITES (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A radio telescope antenna of the ALMA (

    A radio telescope antenna of the ALMA ( Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project, in the Chajnantor plateau, Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, on September 30, 2011. The ALMA, an international partnership project of Europe, North America and East Asia with the cooperation of Chile, is presently the largest astronomical project in the world. When finished, it will consistof 66 high precision antennas that will work as a single telescope, located at 5000 of altitude in the extremely arid Atacama desert. AFP PHOTO/Martin BERNETTI EMBARGO, RELEASABLE 3 OCTOBER AT 9 GMT - THIS RESTRICTION APPLIES TO ALL MEDIA, INCLUDING WEBSITES (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

It is thought that solar systems like our own were formed from a huge cloud of dust, rock and gas, which span in a disk around our sun shortly after its birth.

Gradually, it is thought, that matter slowly clumped together in a violent, collision-filled chaos, until the planets as we know them today were finally formed.

Alma will search for these young planets by looking for dust clouds around stars.

James Ulvestad of the National Science Foundation said in a press conference that this work has already begun.

"Alma already has seen dust rings around stars that are very narrow, and by modeling ... you can infer the dust ring has planets inside and outside the ring," he said, according to Space.com.

"Even though you can’t see the planet, you can see the effects of the planet."

The result could be a huge boom in the number of confirmed planets and alien solar systems, which have recently been exploding in number thanks to other instruments like the Kepler space telescope.