LOPES — A LOFAR Prototype Station


The future location of LOFAR LOFAR is a novel radio telescope under development for radio astronomy in the low frequency range. It will be built in the northern part of the Netherlands and the north-eastern part of Germany, with baselines up to 300 km. This will make it an extremely sensitive instrument, capable of looking all the way to the age of reionization.

The idea behind LOFAR is to build a ‘software telescope’. Instead of using a reflector (the dish of conventional telescopes), it will consist of many non-movable and cheap antennas. State of the art electronics and information technology are used to digitally form multiple beams in almost any desired direction. With such a technology one can adaptively form beams in any shape and even look back in time using buffered data.

LOFAR will therefore be an ideal tool to measure the radio emission from cosmic ray air showers produced in the earth atmosphere. With the option to store the raw data for a short time until after an air shower trigger has been generated, it combines the advantages on a low-gain antenna (large field of view) and of a high gain antenna (high sensitivity and background suppression). It also boasts a huge collecting area.

See also:

The LOFAR test site in Drenthe