LOFAR Newsletters February 2017

Previous LOFAR newsletters are collected here.




- The Science Support group of the Radio Observatory of Astron is moving towards a new structure. As a result, it has changed its name into ‘Science Operations & Support' (SOS) group. A new ticketing system through the RO helpdesk and hosted at https://support.astron.nl/rohelpdesk will be adopted as of 7 May 2018. The old e-mail address will cease to exist on the same day. Messages to the old address will not be automatically forwarded to the new one and will not be read. Instead, an appropriate message will be bounced to the sender. ASTRON and Wiki pages will be updated on the same day. More information about the structure change of the group will be given at the LSM on 8 March.

- The Conference ‘The Broad Impact of Low Frequency observing' will take place between 19-23 June 2017 in Bologna (Italy). It will run from Monday morning, 9 am till Friday, lunchtime. On Friday afternoon, we will hold the 4th LOFAR Users Meeting, at the same venue. Registration and abstract submission are open - see here.

- The Cycle 8 proposal call has been advertised (find the text here). The submission deadline is Wednesday, 8 March, at 12 UT (noon).

- CEP2 has been switched off at the beginning of January. Since December 2016, CEP4 as been adopted as the main production cluster.

- A major CEP3 system upgrade is planned for the period 15-31 May 2017. Among other things, the upgrade will allow easier maintenance of the cluster in the future and more up-to-date tools and libraries to be used. Access to the cluster will not be possible during the aforementioned period. An upgrade plan is in progress. Users will be kept informed through future newsletters and LSMs.

- LOFAR calibration tables for some stations for LBA inner (between 21 Sep 2015 and 22 Nov 2016) & LBA outer (between 19 May and 22 Nov 2016) suffered from a format issue that prevented proper reading during observations. A proper alert system is now in place to promptly catch this issue, might this happen in the future. More details are given here. The PIs of affected projects have been notified.


Array status:


- 38 stations operational in the Netherlands: 24 core stations and 14 remote stations.

- 12 international stations operational: DE601, DE602, DE603, DE604, DE605, FR606, SE607, UK608, DE609, PL610, PL611, PL612.

- A new LOFAR station (IE613) is being built on the grounds of Birr Castle, located centrally in Ireland. Expected completion: second half 2017.

- The overview of non-operational antenna elements for LBA and HBA is available here.


Observing System Status:


- Nominal system performance during the period January - February 2017. CEP4 commissioning activities and failures at COBALT nodes have caused delays to the observing programme.


CITT Status (E. Orru' & T. J. Dijkema)


- The CITT is working on solving issues in Factor, the facet calibration scheme maintained at github.com/lofar-astron/factor . Also, an effort was recently started to get prefactor to run on CEP4. We are developing and testing a scheme for calibrating TEC in multiple directions simultaneously. Efforts to get Image Domain Gridding into a commissioning state are also on going.


Software development status (J. Annyas):


- All LCUs have been replaced and the old hardware has been phased out.

- The responsive telescope project is running now. A. Rawlinson and S. ter Veen will give user input (Product Owner role).

- New team members are being hired to fill the new open positions.


MSSS Status (J. Broderick & G. Heald)


- Alex Clarke's paper on the discovery of a giant radio galaxy in MSSS, associated with the galaxy triplet UGC 9555, has now been accepted for publication (Clarke et al. 2017, A&A, in press; arXiv:1702.01571). 

- Using four CEP3 nodes, we have begun reimaging all 3616 HBA fields, with a target goal of 45 arcsec resolution (i.e. identical to that of the 1.4 GHz NVSS). These image products will form the basis of the MSSS public data release later this year. Early results are very positive, with a substantial improvement in image quality compared with our current internal data release (which has a nominal angular resolution of 120 arcsec). A further update on the imaging, quality control steps and cataloguing will be provided in the next bulletin. 


Observing Programmes


- Cycle 7 observing programme: 52% complete. The observing schedule can be found here.

- Cycle 6 observing programme: 92% complete. The rest is being observed with second priority during Cycle 7.


CEP news:


- CEP4

  • Characterization of the various processing pipelines supported by the Radio Observatory has been completed. The results are available here.

- CEP3:

  • Cluster info and schedule available here.
  • Monitoring of node usage is active. Statistics will be used to evaluate requests for extensions.


Calendar next LOFAR activities:


Note: the following events are marked on an online calendar that is available here.

- ‘The Broad Impact of Low Frequency observing': 19-23 June 2017, Bologna (Italy).

- NAM 2017, 02-06 July 2017. Special LOFAR session: afternoon 6 July.

- Next LSM's : 08/03, 05/04

(all presentations given at the LSM and video recordings are available here).

- Next Stop days: 07/03, 04/04

- Next software roll outs: 13/03, 08/05

- Next LOFAR bulletin: April 2017

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