Agreement to be Concluded on Development of LOFAR Station in Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre


On December 5, 2017, at 13:00, an agreement between Ventspils University College (VUC) and AstroTec Holding B.V. (AstroTec), subsidiary of radio astronomy institute ASTRON in the Netherlands (ASTRON), will be concluded on the development of a LOFAR station in the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre (VIRAC). LOFAR is the next-generation sensor programmable radio telescope, which allows to receive 1-2 levels weaker radio signals and, hence, collect data from objects further away from Earth.

The agreement will be signed by the Rector of Ventspils University College Mr. Kārlis Krēsliņš and the Director of AstroTec Mr. Ronald G. B. Halfwerk. The event will be attended by representatives from Ventspils City Council (VCC), VUC, VIRAC, as well as by Nico Ebbendorf, the Head of the Technical Support Group of the R&D Department of ASTRON.

Dutch company AstroTec will develop and construct the LOFAR station for VIRAC. The company will also test the equipment required by the station and, after completion, hand over the station to VIRAC.

With the support of VCC, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia and other collaborators, the government of the Republic of Latvia granted substantial funding for the development of VIRAC  – the development of the next-generation antenna network (LOFAR station).

The total costs for the development of the LOFAR station are planned to be EUR 1 651 127 (VAT included). The costs incurred will be covered from the government funding. It is planned to complete the LOFAR station at the end of 2019.

The LOFAR network provides equipment for low frequency observations not only to radio astronomers, but also to a wide variety of astrophysics programmes worldwide. LOFAR stations are also located in other places in the world, together creating a large-scale network of radio telescopes known as the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT). ILT is the world’s largest telescope that performs radio astronomy observations in the lower frequencies and in which the LOFAR station in Latvia will be integrated.

The next-generation antennas are placed on the ground. The development of LOFAR station will provide new opportunities for scientific advancements not only in radio astronomy, but also in information and communication technologies, geophysics, geodetics, environmental engineering and bioeconomics.

Photo: a LOFAR station in Chillbolton, United Kingdom.