Previous LOFAR newsletters are collected here. 

Published by the editorial team, 15 February 2023



    Cycle 20 proposal call

    The proposal call for Cycle 20 has been advertised and can be found here. The submission deadline will be on Wednesday, 8 March, at 12 UT (noon). This call will fill the entire 12-month period 01 June 2023 – 31 May 2024. After this “last full LOFAR1 observing window”, significant temporary impact is expected from LOFAR2.0 upgrade activities. More information about the functionality and resources available during Cycle 20 are given in the call.

    LOFAR Family Meeting 2023

    The next LOFAR Family Meeting will take place in Olsztn (Poland) between 12-16 June 2023. As usual, the meeting will represent a great opportunity to share scientific accomplishments and experiences of the LOFAR collaboration. All detailed information about the registration, venue, hotels, and travel suggestions will be available at the meeting webpage soon.

    LOFAR Status Meetings (LSM): new cadence and format

    Feedback about the new LOFAR Status Meeting format was gathered following a user community survey. The outcome is that the cadence of the event will be on a quarterly basis. Concerning the agenda, after a few highlights about the LOFAR system, observing program and events, the meeting will focus on a single topic that will be presented by one or more experts and a discussion and action plan will follow. The first LSM following this new format took place in November. 2022 The next will be coming February 22.

    Poznan and Juelich LTA sites

    Data staging and downloading from the Poznan and Juelich LTA sites have been mostly stable in the past few months. Staging and download services were down for few days during the power maintenance at CIT and the LTA upgrade periods in December 2022. Contact SDC-Helpdesk if you experience any issues.

    LOFAR password self-service

    The password Self-service is active although the integration with (linking from) MoM/NorthStar/LTA is not yet functional. In the meantime, users can go to the link: to reset their password. Contact SDC-Helpdesk, if further support is needed.

    Array and observing system status

    • 38 stations operational in the Netherlands: 24 core and 14 remote stations. 14 international stations in operations: DE601, DE602, DE603, DE604, DE605, FR606, SE607, UK608, DE609, PL610, PL611, PL612, IE613, LV614.
    • A new international station will be built in Italy. The station is expected to be fully operational in 2024.
    • Antenna elements of all stations are performing nominally. However, CS005, CS021, RS406, and DE605 have between 10% and 13% non-operational elements. The overview of non-operational antenna elements for LBA and HBA is available here.
    • Planned power maintenance in the housing of COBALT2.0 at CIT in Groningen and the breakdown of one of the COBALT2.0 nodes resulted in the loss of few observing hours during the first and second week of December 2022.

    LOFAR stations map


    Observing programs

    • Cycle 19 observations started on 1 December 2022 and will run till 31 May 2023. The observing schedule can be found here.
    • At the end of observing week 6, about 650 hours of production observations were performed. This corresponds to an average observing efficiency of 69%.

    Cycle 19



    Telescope Manager Specification System (TMSS) - S. ter Veen

    • The Telescope Manager Specification System (TMSS) is a replacement for MoM and various schedulers to specify and schedule the LOFAR observations.
    • TMSS has been developed over the last three years and will soon take over full production observations. A few sample screenshots are presented in the image.
    • Some projects have been running with TMSS since April 25th, including the full LoLSS survey in Cycle 18.
    • During the past period we have been resolving many issues with the new system so that we can move operations to TMSS.
    • We are installing TMSS on a better server first to be able to deal with full production reliably. This is ongoing at the time of writing.
    • Users will be instructed on how to use TMSS for their projects.
    • In the last months development has delivered to production:
      • the scheduling set editor for efficient support;
      • reporting of daily observations (replacement from JIRA, debugging some issue still);
      • a basic form of dynamic scheduling;
      • project and cycle reporting.
    • The following planned development has not been completed yet:
      • failure reporting;
      • partial COBALT2 support.
    • TMSS was presented and demonstrated to ASTRON and other stakeholders on December 15th.
    • Development will continue as part of general LOFAR software development. This will likely be at a slower pace than the last three years. Two focus areas are:
      • connection with LOFAR2 station;
      • increase automation of operational processes.


    LOFAR2.0 program – W. van Cappellen

    • Note: progress highlights are also presented in the LOFAR2.0 Newsletters, and the LOFAR2.0 Blog.
    • The ILT Board approved the purchase of LOFAR2.0 hardware for 52 of the 54 stations (including BG and IT) plus spare parts. The ILT Board also agreed to collaboratively purchase hardware for the remaining two stations such that they can be upgraded as soon as funding is in place. On top, HBA subracks are purchased for 10 future dual-beam stations.
    • Technical verification of the LOFAR2.0 Test Station (L2TS) is in full swing and no major issues have been found so far. Many aspects like the bandpass, receiver sensitivity, linearity, analog and digital beam forming have been verified successfully. The L2TS uses only a small amount of antennas. In the first quarter of 2023, the L2TS will be expanded to a fully functional LOFAR2.0 station (see figures).
    • The timing distributor hardware has been tendered and purchased. Delivery and installation in remote stations is expected from mid-2023.
    • Planning: We expect to upgrade another two stations with LOFAR2.0 hardware in the first quarter of 2024 (null-series). The large-scale rollout of LOFAR2.0 is scheduled in the second half of 2024 and the first half of 2025.
    • We started to investigate a combined procurement of CEP6, COBALT3 and the core LOFAR network infrastructure. Currently, a combination of Ethernet and InfiniBand network technology is used between CEP and COBALT. Replacing the networking for all three systems (CEP4, COBALT2 and the core network) with a 400 Gbit/s Ethernet solution would result in a lot of energy and hardware savings and an easier to maintain system. This will also make it much easier to support TBB data transfers and similar science.
    Figure 1. First L2TS all-sky images.


    Figure 2. L2TS tracking Cas A (see


    SDC program – J. Swinbank

    • The major goal for SDC development over this period has been to advance beamformed data processing in the LDV project up to an operational level. This has involved improvements across the SDC, in particular in the ways in which we define and manage data processing workflows. LDV started production using these systems; see the LDV report elsewhere in this newsletter for details.
    • StageIt, the new stager for use within the LOFAR Long Term Archive, is complete and ready for operations. StageIt is a substantial upgrade over its predecessor, emphasizing improved stability and reporting capabilities alongside a host of other improvements. StageIt is being integrated with the LTA interface at and the lofar_stager_api Python package is being updated to work with the new system.
    • The SDC team is continuing to work towards a first release of the Rapthor direction-dependent calibration and imaging pipeline for LOFAR. Building on and working with the expertise and tooling developed across the LOFAR community, Rapthor — together with LINC — will provide a standardized and supported imaging solution within the context of the SDC.
    • The SDC development team were very active at the ADASS (Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems) XXXII conference from 31 October to 4 November: see Yan Grange spoke about the work he has been leading to define the Science Platform for the SKA Regional Centre network, while Fanna Lautenbach and others coordinated a “birds of a feather” session bringing together newcomers to the world of ADASS and astronomical software development with a number of old hands and Mattia Mancini presented a poster on the topic “Making LOFAR data accessible to the Solar and Space Weather community”. All of this material was well received. The event also provided a useful forum for networking and learning about new technologies and best practices being developed elsewhere in the community.
    • Over the last several years, ASTRON and the SDC Programme have acted as leaders of the development of ESAP, the science platform framework being developed within the context of the EC-funded ESCAPE project (see image). As ESCAPE enters its final stages, we held our last major event — the ESAP Training Workshop — on 21 & 22 November 2022. The focus of this meeting was on explaining to research infrastructures and other projects how they could deploy ESAP to provide services to their users. That is something that we will look to do ourselves, as we build on the work delivered by ESCAPE in the context of both LOFAR and the SKA Regional Centres. Recordings of all the workshop sessions are available online at

    LOFAR Data Valorization – M. Iacobelli, B. Kondratiev, and C. Baldovin (on behalf of the LDV project team)

    • As previously announced in this newsletter, the processing of early beamformed (BF) archived data started in December 2022. Technical issues encountered have delayed the validation of the ingest system and as a result no ingest of newly generated data is happening. Quality assurance procedures are in place and relevant information is propagated to the metadata, which will help data discovery. Further developments are ongoing to enable a proper ingest, as well as to prepare for the next operational step, i.e., the re-quantization of BF data to enable a further, significant (4PB) decrease in storage needs in the LTA.
    • In November 2022 the LDV team gathered for a busy day to discuss different issues related to the operational phase and the preparations for a request to renew the computing resources at SURF. The proposal was submitted shortly after and is now under assessment. The project received a fraction of the resources requested in December and a final decision is expected in a couple of weeks from now.
    • The image below was published as a ASTRON-JIVE daily image, see

    Calendar of upcoming LOFAR activities

    • Course on “Frontend research at low radio frequency Radio astronomy: Science and technical challenges”, l’Aquila, Italy, 3-7 April 2023. More information here.
    • LOFAR family meeting 2023 in Poland: June 12 – 16, 2023.
    • Next LOFAR bulletin: March 2023


    SDC Helpdesk