Previous LOFAR newsletters are collected here. 

Published by the editorial team, 4 October 2023



    LOFAR Data School 2024

    The 7th LOFAR Data School will happen at ASTRON in Dwingeloo during April 15 – 19, 2024. The registration is now open and it will close on November 30, 2023. Visit the official website of the school for more details. If you have any question(s) or need further clarification, you may contact us via

    Data staging and downloading from the LTA sites

    Data staging and downloads from the LTA sites were stable in the past few weeks, except the few maintenance days that the services were unavailable. Planned maintenance days are always mentioned at the LTA portal. Contact the SDC-Helpdesk if you are experiencing any issues with staging and downloads.

    LOFAR2.0 large programmes call for proposals

    The deadline for the call for LOFAR2.0 Large Programmes is noon (UTC) on October 12, 2023. An overview and capabilities of LOFAR2.0 can be found here. Details of the call may also be found at this link. Also, the discussions on the standard observing setups (i.e., LBA, HBA & LBA+HBA) and commensal partnerships are still ongoing here.

    Array and observing system status

    LOFAR map

    • 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.
    • New international stations will be built in Italy and Bulgaria in the coming years. Both stations will be equipped with LOFAR2.0 hardware, whose installation/rollout is expected in 2025.
    • Antenna elements of all stations are performing nominally, except, RCS030, CS103 and RS406 HBA that have between 17 and 18% % non-operational elements. Those elements are either broken - to be fixed or broken beyond repairs. The overview of non-operational antenna elements for LBA and HBA is available here. At the station level, all stations were online during the period under consideration, except, DE601 and DE602 which had broken RSPDriver and TDS boards respectively and were intermittently offline; the boards are replaced now, and the stations are actively participating in observations.
    • Moreover, no major failures occurred on CEP hardware/software over the past couple of months. A major upgrade of the processing cluster is planned to happen later this year or early next year.

    Observing programs

    • Cycle 20 observing campaign started on 1 June 2023 and will run till 31 May 2024. The public version of the observing schedule in TMSS will be available in due course. For now, only PIs can see their projects in TMSS.
    • At the end of the first four months, we have done more than 2200 hours of successful production observations, corresponding to ~24% completion of the observing program and 75% observing efficiency.



    Telescope Manager Specification System (TMSS; A. Schoenmakers, S. ter Veen)

    • The Dynamic Scheduler is now in full production mode for cycle 20 and we are expanding its options and versatility as the need arises. So far, the operational staff is very happy with the functionality and the support. The next challenge is to prepare a full cycle; if the system has shown to be able to do that, we consider this phase of the dynamic scheduler development done. Some functionality that has been added lately are the ability to enable parallel observations and reservations, which was necessary to run the IDOLS project, and the ‘LST-pressure’ plots which help to pinpoint potential issues with requested observations.
    • A lot of work is being put in improving the TMSS frontend code. We are updating the older visualization and rendering libraries, improving performance by optimization of code, such as removing unnecessary loops, and we are refactoring the code for better readability and maintainability. And while this is happening, we are using input from the Operators and Science Support to improve the overall user experience and usability. This work is showing good progress and will continue in the coming sprints.


    Figure 1. TMSS week view


    LOFAR Development program (W. van Cappellen)

    • Core station CS001 (a.k.a. the LOFAR2.0 Test Station, or L2TS) has been fully upgraded to LOFAR2.0 for the verification of the LOFAR2.0 design. So far, the verification results are very positive, and no major issues have been found. In October, the production of hardware for the next two LOFAR2.0 station (the Production Test Station) will commence. These will be operational by April 2024.
    • With the LOFAR2.0 upgrade, the station electronics are upgraded to simultaneously record with all antennas and in both frequency bands. After calibrating the L2TS, the first simultaneous LBA and HBA all-sky image was made (see Fig. 2).
    • The dataflow from L2TS to COBALT is also up and running and the first pulsar detection has been demonstrated.
    • A European public tender to procure new core network equipment in Groningen is ready to be published. Our new backbone will make the LOFAR network ready for LOFAR2.0 and brings us a step closer to the ambition to connect all stations to 100 Gbit/s in the future!
    • Do you want to know more? LOFAR Development Newsletter.


    Figure 2. The image shows the sky seen with the LBA antennas at 38MHz (left) and the HBA antennas at 139MHz (right). The activity of the Sun is obvious in the HBA image, where it outshines Cas A and the Galactic plane, which are more obvious in the LBA image.


    SDC program (J. Swinbank)

    • Following the release of version 1 of the Rapthor pipeline in June 2023, we released a further minor version (1.1) in July. This includes a number of performance enhancements and bug fixes; refer to the changelog for details. As a reminder, Rapthor — and LINC, its direction-independent counterpart — will serve as the basis of observatory-supported imaging in the LOFAR2.0 era. Please take this opportunity to test them out and engage with the ASTRON SDC team to discuss potential enhancements.
    • We were delighted to learn that the SPECTRUM proposal (HORIZON-INFRA-2023-DEV-01-05) was successful. In this project, ASTRON will partner with a number of other scientific institutions and computing centres across Erope to develop new technical and procedural models for interoperable data-processing and storage. This is an exciting opportunity to take the lessons learned from our existing LOFAR LTA partnerships and build on them to address the challenges that will be faced by LOFAR and other peta- and exa-scale projects in the future. The SPECTRUM project will begin early in 2024, and we will provide regular updates to the community on the progress being made.


    Figure 3. SPECTRUM proposal logo

    Calendar of upcoming LOFAR activities

    The dates of LOFAR Status Meetings, roll-outs and stop days are listed in an online calendar that is available here.


    SDC Helpdesk