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COBALT2.0 Phase 1 Kickoff meeting

Submitter: Rene Kaptijn
Description: The COBALT software correlator and beam-former is the central brain of LOFAR. It receives the signals from the geographically separated LOFAR stations, and combines them in real time such that radio images of the sky can later be synthesized.

COBALT2.0 is a next-generation correlator and beam-former, which will turn LOFAR into an unparalleled multitasking radio telescope and thereby greatly boost the science return per observing hour. The project is based on a successful NWO-M grant written by Jason Hessels.

The COBALT2.0 5x greater computational power will enable the LOFAR Mega Mode: a parallel observing mode that will serve half a dozen scientific surveys and space weather applications at the same time. For example, we will double the speed at which LOFAR legacy all-sky imaging survey can be observed, which is critical to completing it on a short-enough timescale that it can inform upcoming multi-wavelength surveys. The LOFAR Mega Mode also offers high-cadence monitoring observations with space weather applications. At the same time, COBALT2.0 will strengthen collaboration between the diverse set of LOFAR Key Science Project teams because of the commensal nature of the LOFAR Mega Mode and the cross-fertilization that this implies.

On Thursday January 11, we had a very fruitful and successful kick-off meeting with the project team of the COBALT2.0 Phase 1 project here at ASTRON. The specific goal of Phase 1 is to replace the COBALT cluster and its current functionality. This means designing and acquiring the COBALT2.0 hardware, connecting it in parallel to the current COBALT, tuning and making the necessary software adaptations, testing and commissioning, and finally replacing the old cluster. Phase 2 of the project focuses on fully implementing and commissioning the LOFAR Mega Mode.

Thanks everybody for participating in the kick-off meeting and let us make this project a great success!
Copyright: ASTRON
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