Oral Abstract

Oral Contribution (O7.2) Roberto Pizzo (ASTRON)

Theme: Telescope operations and scheduling: from classical to autonomous

LOFAR: challenges and solutions to operate the World's largest radio telescope

LOFAR is the World's largest radio telescope which combines signals from 51 phased array antenna stations distributed in The Netherlands and across Europe. It covers the largely unexplored low-frequency range from 10- 240 MHz and provides several unique observing capabilities. LOFAR operations face crucial technical and operational challenges related to recording, transporting, processing, storing, and sharing 'big data'. Tens of gigabytes of data flow through a massive ICT infrastructure every second, from the stations to the correlation facility located in the north of The Netherlands. After data quality inspection, the post-correlator raw data is further processed on a supercomputer through a variety of processing pipelines. Final data products are shared with the community through a geographically distributed long-term archive system, which hosts the largest astronomical data collection to date. All this is overseen and managed by a variety of systems and tools allowing to maintain a healthy data flow and realise ever growing observing efficiencies. In this talk, I will present these and discuss the operational challenges faced over the first seven years of LOFAR operations, along with the important lessons learned and solutions - both implemented and forthcoming - which will be important reference for next generation observing facilities.