Figure 1: Diagram shows the three phases of the science project administration workflow (project preparation, project execution and project closure) along with the main steps. Actors and their responsibilities are indicated with the symbols. See table below for details.
Acronyms: SDCO - Science Data Center and Operations; TO - Telescope Operators; PC - Program Committee; SU - Scheduling Units; QA - Quality Assurance; TMSS - Telescope Manager System Specification; MoM - Management of Measurements
|Process steps||SDCO||General user||User shared support mode|
|Contact author is notified via Jira about the project preparation||SDCO will open a ticket in Jira to be used as the communication channel for the science project between the contact author and SDCO||The science project contact author will be responsible for providing any additional / missing info requested for the preparation of the observing campaign as well as for the acceptance of the delivered data. See here for instructions on how to use Jira.|
|User specification (via the proposal in NorthStar) is converted / imported into TMSS||SDCO will rely on the info gathered from the proposal as well as from the feedback given by the PC and technical teams||The expert user(s) will rely on the info gathered from the proposal as well as from the feedback given by the PC and technical teams|
|Check if any changes are needed to the proposed scheduling set; when ready the project status in TMSS is set to active||SDCO collect info for later reporting.
SDCO applies changes when needed if matching the allocated resources.
SDCO/TO Change the status in TMSS
|The contact author will validate the specification in TMSS (follow the instructions in the section below) of the observing campaign and contact SDCO via the Jira ticket.||The expert user(s) will validate the specification in TMSS for the observing campaign and contact SDCO via the Jira ticket
SDCO/TO Change the status in TMSS
|The set of SU is approved for (dynamic) scheduling.||TO/SDCO Change of status in TMSS||TO/User Change the status in TMSS
|SU performed successfully & User accept data||
||Contact author receives notification (email / Jira) and as soon as possible provide feedback (please find here some instructions on how to assess the data quality)||
|SU successful & User does not accept data||
||Contact author receives notification (email / Jira) and as soon as possible provides feedback. Note that rejection of data must happen within 4 weeks from the data delivery in the Long Term Archive (LTA) in order to apply for a repetition.||
|SU failed||Contact author receives notification (email / Jira). Note that in some cases the science team may find the data acceptable and in such cases should contact ASAP via Jira SDCO.|
|Closure of the project: prio A all SU performed & successful||SDCO closes the Jira ticket and the changes the status in TMSS into finished and report|
|Closure of the project: prio A part of SU performed successful||SDCO closes the Jira ticket and the changes the status in TMSS into suspended and report.|
|Closure of the project: prio B part of SU leftover.||SDCO closes the Jira ticket and the changes the status in TMSS into finished and report.|
Users can access TMSS by using credentials of NorthStar (and MoM) accounts:
Once user credentials are available the user can access the login page here. Users must use the button Login with Keycloack to access the system. The user is next asked to provide the credentials in Keycloack.
Users experiencing issues with the above procedure should send a request to the SDC Helpdesk. Note that currently TMSS only supports Firefox and Chrome browsers.
Once logged in TMSS the user will land on the Week view (Figure 2), which hosts a sidebar with menus, a search bar as well as help and logout buttons. An overview as function of time (per week) of planned SUs (and reservations) is offered for the user. Note that the view is filtered, i.e. is only exposed the SUs relevant for the user science projects. By this way it enables a quick access to the SUs content. The menu on the left allows users to navigate the different main pages.
Figure 2: Weekly view with sidebar in TMSS
To access the science project and its content click on Project. This provides an overview of the science projects, a collection of scheduling sets belonging to a scientific, commissioning proposal or to system tests. This is a filtered view based on the user permissions. Once on the Project page click on the eye icon of the project for which the specification needs to be validated.
The user will land on the page of the project (Figure 3), where the top shows the properties of the project, including the allocated resources and the status of the projects (see Table 2).
|Opened||Project has been created. Project properties may still be updated|
|Active||Project is active, observations can occur.|
|Finished||Project is finished. All observations have been taken, or the cycle (and next cycle) have passed and observations cannot be performed anymore.|
|Cancelled||The project is cancelled. No observation has been taken.|
|Suspended||The project is suspended (temporarily) from scheduling.|
The bottom panel presents a table view of the scheduling units (scheduling unit (SU) is a collection of system tasks such as e.g. observations, pipelines and ingest). From this view, the pointing details can also be viewed.
[Note] If the angle columns do not appear, click the [ | ] icon to change the columns. (There is an issue with the target name, this will be fixed to represent the pointing name from the proposal, rather than target1,2,3).
Figure 3: Scheduling set view of the project.
In order to access the content and details of the SU(s) of interest, the user should click on the eye icon.
The top section consists on a descriptive view of the general properties of the SU. Here useful links to the Blueprint and the science project container are provided. Table 3 shows the list of the possible status that a scheduling unit can undergo depending on which step of the process is running.
|Defined||The scheduling unit exists|
|Schedulable||The scheduling unit is defined and ready to be scheduled by the scheduler|
|Unschedulable||The scheduling unit cannot be scheduled because:
1) The scheduling constraints can never be met
2) There is a scheduling unit blocking this unit from being scheduled
3) There are too many stations out for this scheduling unit to be scheduled
|Scheduled||The scheduling unit is scheduled at this specific time|
|Observing||One or more observations are running.|
|Observed||All observations are finished (or obsolete)|
|Processing||The pipelines are active / in the queue. There are no observations running.|
|Processed||All pipelines are finished (or obsolete)|
|Ingesting||The ingest task is running (and no processing is running)|
|Cancelled||One or more tasks are cancelled|
|Error||One or more tasks are in error|
|Finished||All processes are finished, including ingest.|
The next section hosts a table view with listed tasks. Properties and (eventual editing) of each task can be accessed by clicking on the eye icon. For validation purposes the user should check if the tasks list is complete to fulfill the needed observing strategy (e.g. the number of observing tasks for both target and calibrators, as well as the number of related pipelines). Note that the strategy used in the SU (including observing and processing set up) is selected by the Friend of the project based on the user specifications given in the proposal, the technical panel report and PC stipulations.
Moreover, the user must check the scheduling constraints (see Table 4), the exposure length and the pointings details (e.g. RA, DEC, names of targets) by scrolling down the page. Any inconsistency should be reported to the Friend of the project via the Jira ticket for editing. The scheduling constraints are used for (dynamic) scheduling to evaluate when observations can be scheduled. To check the scheduling constraints and pointing details of many scheduling units, the user can use the scheduling set editor, where they are provided in a table view. Please select each scheduling set and for each scheduling set the strategies in bold to verify all units. (Loading the table currently may take several minutes if there are many SUs).
|Scheduler||Type of scheduling to use. Default is to use the dynamic scheduler, so observations are picked up automatically, but it is possible to specify fixed time scheduling.
The first month of Cycle 17 we will use fixed time scheduling. After that it is only reserved for projects that need to be fixed in time.
Manual Fixed time
|at||Run observations at this specific time. Only use this if really required, e.g., the target is also observed with another telescope. Specifying this circumvents priority scheduling and should be used with care. When in doubt, consult MI, StV.|
|after||Minimum start time of this scheduling unit. Default: start of cycle||2021-06-01 00:00:00|
|before||Maximum end time of this scheduling unit. Default: end of cycle||2021-11-30 23:59:59|
|between||Only schedule within the time windows specified here. More time-windows can be specified by pressing the + button below. This can be used to distinguish observations that should run monthly be specifying a few days where these observations could run.||From: 2021-07-08 00:00:00
|not between||Do not schedule within the time windows specified here. More time-windows can be specified by pressing the + button below.||From: 2021-07-08 00:00:00
|Daily||require_day : Day time observations. Run when the sun is higher than 10 degrees above the horizon at the Superterp.
require_night : Night time observations. Run when the sun is lower than 10 degrees above the horizon at the Superterp.
avoid_twilight : Avoid sunrise and sunset. Run when the sun is higher than 10 degrees above the horizon at the Superterp, or lower than 10 degress below the horizon.
|min_target_elevation||Minimum elevation for all SAPs in the target observations|
|min_calibrator_elevation||Minimum elevation for the SAP of all calibrator observations|
|transit_offset||Offset in (UTC) seconds from transit for the average Right Ascension of the target observations. This can be used when the observation is split into shorted chunks to be observed at different LST ranges. Please take into account a one minute gap between subsequent observations.||from -7200 to 7200
from -7200 to -3600
from 3600 to 7200
|min_distance||Minimum distance to the Sun, Moon and Jupiter (latter mostly relevant below 30 MHz) in degrees (backend uses radians).
Current default 30, or 28.64 degrees
Jupiter: 30 (< 40 MHz ) else 15
For your orientation, a preliminary schedule can be found at the following web address:
The overall schedule is subject to change, as LOFAR is being further developed and the telescope operators have to respond to triggered observations as well as operational issues and maintenance.
In view of the overall telescope schedule, the detailed preparation of upcoming observations that require any input provided from you will be initiated (under normal circumstances) by ASTRON staff at the latest two weeks ahead of your observations. Fundamental changes in the setup of your observations should be reported at least 10 days ahead of your observations. We cannot guarantee any changes to be made at a later time.
As soon as the ASTRON personnel finishes the preparation you will be notified by email. In case you see errors on the “Details” overviews of the observations, you will be able to respond with any changes that need to be made until the last working day of the week prior to the week preceding the scheduled time of observation.
After the observations and subsequent processing, you will be notified via the Jira ticket associated to the project and the requested data products will be made available through the archive as soon as possible.
The Radio Observatory will not have the opportunity to check all data manually before it is exported, although some automatic diagnostics are generated for system monitoring, and offline technical monitoring will be carried out regularly. You will receive a notification after each observation for your project with detailed information on where to find the relevant plots. Your project team is encouraged to analyze their data, at least preliminarily, soon after the observations, and to get in touch through the ASTRON sdchelpdesk about any possible problems. Observations that turn out to have a problem that makes them unusable may be considered for only one re-run, as soon as the schedule allows.
For more information about the observing and processing policies adopted by ASTRON during the LOFAR Cycles, please consult the ASTRON web pages at
For the Shared-Support workflow as well as documentation for the day to day duties of the Shared-Support user, please see below.
You can add a scheduling unit from either the Scheduling Units tab or from a project page. Use the button to add a scheduling unit.
A scheduling unit is based on an observing strategy and part of a scheduling set. The observing strategy A scheduling set is a collection of scheduling units that can also be specified at the same time. The scheduling units can use one or more observing strategy. If no scheduling set exists, you can add one with the button. You can specify all observations in the project into one scheduling set or use it to help you with the administration.
For further instructions including specifying a scheduling set (which allows you to prepare many similar observations at once), please see the TMSS documentation here.
Note: The ingest job is now included as part of the observing strategy so make sure this has been correctly specified.
In TMSS, the draft scheduling unit is scheduled by creating a blueprint. Once a blueprint is created, the observations can be scheduled immediately, so please first make sure all settings are correct.
To create a blueprint press the button.
Data quality assessments for completed observations are performed to ensure the observations are acceptable within the LOFAR data policy. Before assessing the observations, ensure the observation cannot be considered failed (the criteria for a failed observation is outlined in the LOFAR data policy). If this is the case, the following assessment can be skipped and the procedure for failed observations described below should be followed.
The data quality assessment is done using a variety of tools that help assess the data at various stages along the data flow from the station. Most of the diagnostic tools are found on the inspection plot page of the observation here. To check the observations select the SAS ID of the observation for which you wish to inspect. A page will open, containing the following diagnostic information:
In case of a failed observation (the criteria for a failed observation is outlined in the LOFAR data policy), the expert-user must mark the failure on the google schedule, notify the SDCO team and report the failure:
After checking the observations using the steps above, the Data Quality Report needs to be written.
The following message contains information regarding a LOFAR Cycle 18 project for which you are listed as the contact author. Please forward this information to your collaborators.
We would like to inform you that observations related to your LOFAR Cycle 18 project have been performed. Please find detailed information below.
The validation plots linked below remains online for 3 weeks from the date of observation. After that, they are compressed and transferred to offline storage. Users can request access to them by submitting a ticket through the [Jira Helpdesk|https://support.astron.nl/sdchelpdesk|https://support.astron.nl/sdchelpdesk].
SAS ID Campaign Target DynSpec Compl Compl* AntennaSet Band Start End Clock Subb Parset
Performance of the system: Completeness of data recorded was %:
Remarks: Please analyse the validation plots at
https://proxy.lofar.eu/inspect/HTML/ within 24 hours after this notification and submit a support request at
https://support.astron.nl/rohelpdesk in case you need to report problems about their quality. After this time window has passed, we will assume that your judgement is that the observation was successful and we will complete the actions described above to support your run.
From the moment the data are made available to you at the LTA you have four weeks to check their quality and to report any problems to the Observatory. After this time window has passed, no requests for re-observation will be considered.
If you need any further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us through the SDC helpdesk at https://support.astron.nl/sdchelpdesk , specifying your project code in the subject.
on behalf of Science Operations & Support