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The first LOFAR operational observing Cycle

Submitter: Roberto Pizzo
Description: LOFAR has just completed Cycle 0, its first operational observing cycle. A total of 2850 successful observing hours were delivered, including 94% (2250 hours) of the total time awarded to the 38 approved Cycle 0 user projects. Together with Cycle 0 observations, during its first operational Cycle LOFAR has also successfully observed 600 hours of non-Cycle 0 observations. Specifically, it has started and almost completed the HBA part of the MSSS survey. Moreover, it has observed several commissioning, as well as DDT (Director's Discretionary Time) projects.

Cycle 0 has been an important learning experience for the Radio Observatory of ASTRON. The distribution of successful production observing with time is shown in the diagram. In this diagram, 100% would correspond to an absolutely perfect system running observations full-time without any gaps, maintenance, or development. The diagram illustrates that since the beginning of the Cycle, LOFAR operations have improved significantly in quality and efficiency. Several issues have been faced and, in most cases, they have been quickly resolved while the instrument continued to deliver scientific data to the users. During routine production weeks, the efficiency of LOFAR has attained that of many more mature observatories. Recently, the installation of COBALT - the new LOFAR correlator under development - into the observing system has caused some delays in the observing schedule. Therefore, the remaining 6% (120 hours) of Cycle 0 will be completed during Cycle 1, which has started already on November 15th 2013.

From now on, there will be a regular half-yearly (semester) pattern of proposal and observing cycles, while work continues to expand the observing capabilities and make them more robust.
Copyright: Roberto Pizzo
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