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An HBA as seen through the eyes of Rembrandt

Submitter: Ronald Halfwerk
Description: The gentle rays falling on this delicate structure are reminiscent of Rembrandt's unique use of light. It is being assembled in our construction hall at the Westerbork premises, which allows us a sneak peek of the interior of what makes LOFAR such a remarkable and sensitive radio telescope: the High Band Antenna tile, also known as HBA.

When operating in an International LOFAR station, together with another 96 tiles and all protected against the elements of nature by a tailor-made 5x5m Polypropylene “Top bag” thus hiding to us its interior consisting of 32 dipole antennas, 16 Low-noise amplifiers/beamformers and 16 coaxial cables connected to 2 Summators, this HBA tile is collecting the known and unknown faint signals originated somewhere in our Universe.

Pictured here by Jan-Pieter de Reijer, is Jorrit Siebenga looking back to the just completed assembly of the HBA tile. Together with other ASTRON staff members Sjouke Kuindersma, Peter Gruppen, Lute van de Bult Menno Norden and Henri Meulman, this team is to build four HBA-tiles and a Subrack with receiver and processing gear intended for STFC/RAL in the UK.

Application for this experimental setup of four HBA tiles and backend for the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) / Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Space (RAL), is to perform experiments related to Space Weather research: LOFAR4SW. This setup will be co-located with the LOFAR station Chibolton in the UK.

Space weather refers to the environmental conditions in Earth‘s magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere due to the Sun and the solar wind that can influence the functioning and reliability of spaceborne and ground-based systems and ultimately affecting human activities/health on Earth. There is a strong belief that the wide bandwidth and geographical coverage of LOFAR significantly could contribute to research on space weather.

Btw, in 2019 Rembrandt and the Golden Age will take over the Netherlands as it‘s the 350th anniversary of the death of the most famous Dutch Master: Rembrandt van Rijn. E.g. the Mauritshuis in The Hague has one of the most renowned and important collections of paintings by Rembrandt in the world. Go and see what his eyes had seen...
Copyright: Picture: Jan-Pieter de Reijer (ASTRON)
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