Shared-Support Workflow and Duties

Work flow diagram:


 1. Preparing Observations in TMSS

In order to observe the proposed targets, the observing specifications & pipelines from the proposal need to be translated into system parameters that the telescope can understand. This is done via "scheduling units" in TMSS. For a detailed step by step guide please see the TMSS documentation here.

 1.1 Creating Draft scheduling unit

You can add a scheduling unit from either the Scheduling Units tab or from a project page. Use the Celestin Herbe-George > Shared-Support guidelines > TMSS_icon_add.png 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 Celestin Herbe-George > Shared-Support guidelines > TMSS_icon_add.png 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.

 1.2. Scheduling the Draft

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 Celestin Herbe-George > Shared-Support guidelines > TMSS_icon_blueprint.png button.

  • On the scheduling unit page
  • By first selecting scheduling units on the scheduling unit list page
  • By first selecting scheduling units from the list on the project page

2. Checking Observations & Pipelines

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:

  • COBALT error log: reports any errors during the processing and recording in the correlator of the data stream.
  • Input loss report: reports the data loss from each station (if any).
  • Station dynamic spectra: shows the signal power at each station as a function of time and frequency. The core, remote and international station dynamic spectra are shown and can be used to check and report any unusual features in the station behaviour (such as RFI, presence of bright off-axis sources in the station beam and its sidelobes, oscillating tiles, etc.). For a detailed description of different features on individual inspection plots, see the What do I see here? page.
  • Visibility amplitudes plots: these are listed under the station dynamic spectra with format eg. SAP000 SB000. Each link shows the visibility amplitudes as a function of time for each individual subbands (frequency). From the displayed plots the behaviour as a function of frequency in the bandwidth of the observation can be checked. The different colour lines you see in the plots are relative to 4 signal combinations xx=dark blue, yy=red, xy=light blue, yx=pink. For an unpolarised source, xy and yx should be zero (within the noise), while xx and yy will contain the signals. Note that these plots are available for interferometric observations only. For a detailed description of the individual inspection plots, select the What do I see here? link.

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:

  • Mark the observation as failed on the google schedule.
  • Since the data is automatically ingested by TMSS, notify the SDCO team through the project Jira ticket with the SASID so that they can remove it from the LTA.
  • Navigate to the LOFAR Observing Failures form and log the failure.

3. Writing Data Quality Reports

After checking the observations using the steps above, the Data Quality Report needs to be written.

  • Firstly, select the report template JIRA by selecting CANNED RESPONSES > BLANK OBS REPORT in the format bar of the text box. (If CANNED RESPONSES is not available see template at end of section)
  • State which observations are successful/failed. (The criteria for a failed observation is outlined in the LOFAR data policy.)
  • Add the general notes i.e. comments that apply to all observations/stations.
  • Copy & paste the observation(s) row(s) from the inspection plots page to the Observations section.
  • Add the completeness of the data.
  • Add the performance of the system. For each observation, list the unusual features of the stations spotted when checking the observations.
  • Add the status of the data recording, data processing and archiving.
  • Finally, add remarks or specific actions required.
Blank Observational Report Template (click here) Subject: Observation ____ [Successful/Failed]


Dear Colleague,

The following message contains information regarding a LOFAR Cycle 16 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 16 project have been performed. Please find detailed information below.

General notes:

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||].


SAS IDCampaignTargetDynSpecComplCompl*AntennaSetBandStartEndClockSubbParset


Performance of the system: Completeness of data recorded was %:

Data recording:

Data processing:


Remarks: Please analyse the validation plots at within 24 hours after this notification and submit a support request at 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 , specifying your project code in the subject.

Best regards,

on behalf of Science Operations & Support


Example Report (hover over for zoom):
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