The I-LOFAR International Station
LOFAR is made up of core, remote and international stations, differing mainly in the number of LBA and HBA antennas in each. I-LOFAR is now a full international station (similar to the one shown above), meaning it consists of 96 LBA antennas and 96 HBA antennas, laid out in a field in the arrangement shown below. Each antenna has two coax cable, buried in cable trenches across the site, with each cable connecting back to a unique receiver board. The station digital electronics (receiver boards and high speed internet link) are housed in a shipping container close to the antennas array. On site at the I-LOFAR station there is also a new Education Centre which can accommodate meetings, small conferences or school children, see an architect’s design below.
The International LOFAR Telescope
The entire collection of international stations, comprising of remote and core stations is known as the International LOFAR telescope (ILT). This consists of 12 “International Stations”, with 5 in Germany, 3 in Poland, and 1 station in France, Sweden, the UK, and now Ireland, shown on the map below. In the Netherlands there are the remote stations and a central core of six stations known as the ‘Superterp’ (in the photo above), made up of the 2×48 LBA dipoles, and 2×24 HBA tiles, and also 24 “core stations” made up of 2×48 LBA dipoles, and 2×24 HBA tiles, and 16 “remote stations” made up of 2×48 LBA dipoles, and 48 HBA tiles.
The Netherlands Institute of Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) is home to LOFAR operations, where LOFAR observing schedules and overall operations are carried out. The University of Groningen in the Netherlands also provides data processing service for LOFAR, with the data processing facility being located in the the ‘Zernikeborg’ building shown below.