In 2018, Italy officially joined the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) and in the near future the LOFAR station in Italy will become operational. The station in Italy will be equipped with newly developed hardware of the 2.0 generation. The station is to be installed at the Medicina Radio Observatory site near Bologna. This Italian LOFAR station will be operated under supervisory of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF).
Italy is an important partner for the ILT, but also for the Netherlands. Both countries have a distinguished track record in radio astronomy and this partnership reinforces the long-standing bonds of exchange and collaboration on radio astronomy in Europe, which already dates from the earliest times of the Westerbork telescope. With a LOFAR station in Italy there will be a significant wider distributed antenna network across Europe, this will benefit the image quality for all astronomers and other scientific users.
Design engineers from ASTRON visit the design team at INAF in Medicina/Bologna. (copyright: Gijs Schoonderbeek)
Besides LOFAR operations in the future, INAF participates in the ASTRON-led drive to develop next generation state-of-the-art LOFAR electronics. INAF also is involved in software development and algorithms for data processing.
Pathfinder for SKA
LOFAR is a pathfinder for the next-generation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. The Netherlands and Italy will also partner up for the SKA telescope in which both countries are deeply involved. LOFAR won’t stop operating once the SKA is built, it will continue to do top-level scientific observations. LOFAR gives us the opportunity to train new generations of scientists in the use of SKA.