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Initiator: ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

eu  SNN

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

LOFAR Progress Report

On May 3, the first meeting of the German LOng Wavelength Consortium (GLOW) took place The LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) project is progressing well. Having completed a series of critical design reviews of various sub-systems in the second half of 2005, the first LOFAR core station (CS1) was constructed in the fields of Exloo in the North-East of the Netherlands during the summer of 2006. 96 low band antennas have been distributed over 4 station locations; 48 antennas were placed in a central field and 16 each were distributed over 3 stations around the central station – yielding baselines of up to 450 metres. The figure below gives an impression of a view over the central station. The set-up was chosen to enable not only performance tests of a single station at full bandwidth but also the emulation of LOFAR with 24 micro-stations at reduced bandwidth.


The LOFAR prototype station CS1 went on-line at the beginning of October 2006. Since then, data has flowed to the BlueGene-based correlator in Groningen and is being processed, stored and analysed. As is common with projects like LOFAR, every day offers its surprises. In the course of the past months of CS1 tests, a number of problems have been encountered and solved.
A major milestone for the LOFAR project was the Calibration Review held in Groningen in November last year. This review was dedicated to the question of the ability to calibrate LOFAR using the current calibration strategy. An international panel consisting of Richard Schilizzi (chair), Tim Cornwell, Simon Garrington, Huib-Jan van Langevelde, Rick Perley and Pramesh Rao reviewed progress. Although a lot remains to be done, no major show stoppers were identified. A number of the key recommendations made by the review panel have already been realised – others feature prominently in the work programme for the coming months.
With the delivery of a low band antenna station to the Max-Planck Institute for Radio astronomy in Bonn to be built in Effelsberg, LOFAR has grown beyond its current baseline planning. The Effelsberg station will start to produce data in the spring of 2007 and soon thereafter the first correlation with CS1 data is expected. This year the LOFAR project expects to complete at least two more stations in Germany – close to Potsdam and Garching (Munich). There are also well-advanced plans to construct stations in the UK, France and elsewhere in Germany, while possibilities are also being explored in Sweden, Italy and Poland.
Based on CS1 experience gathered, the LOFAR project is preparing itself for the Critical System Design Review, to be held in April this year. After a successful review, the full LOFAR roll-out will start in the summer. Initially, mostly core stations will be completed in the fields near Exloo. In parallel, some remote stations will assembled in the Netherlands and the project expects to roll-out stations to its foreign partners.
As the project gets ready to complete the critical design review and for its construction phase, exciting times are ahead of us. Many people, who have been working on the project for many years are eagerly awaiting the first real data.

ASTRON initiated LOFAR as a new and innovative effort to force a breakthrough in sensitivity for astronomical observations at radio-frequencies below 250 MHz. 
Development: Dripl | Design: Kuenst   © copyright 2020 Lofar