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Astron

Initiator: ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

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This project was co-financed by the EU, the European Fund for Regional Development and the Northern Netherlands Provinces (SNN), and EZ/KOMPAS.

Completion of the First International LOFAR station

The 96th and final LOFAR high band (HBA) tile was installed at the Effelsberg, Germany LOFAR field on the morning of 2009 July 17, resulting in the first full international LOFAR station.

The low band antennas (LBA) and electronics for the Effelsberg station
have been in place since the end of 2007. Construction work for ground preparation and cable installation for the HBA field began in March this year. On July 6th, an installation team composed of three people from the Autonational company in the Netherlands and many people from the Max Planck Institute fuer Radioastronomie (MPIfR), in Germany began the installation process for the 96 HBA tiles. The installation team managed an amazing tile installation rate, and by July 17, the final tile was moved from the unfolding platform to its final home (inset at bottom-left).

The inset at bottom-right shows a picture of part of the installation crew. The MPIfR effort was lead by James M Anderson (tall, center), the LOFAR Project Leader at the MPIfR. The Autonational group (the three on the right) was lead by Han Wessels (white shirt). Notably missing from the crew picture are Jan from Autonational (already left for vacation), Pascal the crane operator from MPIfR (retrieving a fuel can for the crane) and numerous other members from the MPIfR workforce.

The main picture shows the completed LOFAR station as seen from the existing 100 m radio telescope at Effelsberg. The LBA field of 96 dipole elements is at the bottom, with the 96 tile HBA field above. The Effelsberg LOFAR station is owned by the MPIfR, which is a part of the Max Planck Society. The Effelsberg LOFAR station will be operated as part of the international LOFAR observatory (currently under negotiation by LOFAR partners from various countries).
ASTRON initiated LOFAR as a new and innovative effort to force a breakthrough in sensitivity for astronomical observations at radio-frequencies below 250 MHz. 
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