Support load instructions

Support availability and User Shared Support Mode during cycle 16-19


To calculate the support level required for your project please use this tool.


To maximize the telescope observing hours on sky, more observing hours have been offered than can be supported by ASTRON. Therefore, users can assist in running their own projects in a “user shared-support mode”. To this aim, proposers should state it in the proposal, indicating that they are able to provide experienced personnel to the support activities of their full project (see details below). In this model, ASTRON personnel would only have a supervisory role. In addition, this page explains which functionality requires a higher or lower support load.

Project support consists of several labour-intensive or critical activities, such as

  • scheduling
  • preparing observations
  • reporting
  • data handling
  • project administration

Depending on the specific characteristics of a project, the amount of support required can vary. When preparing a proposal, a tool is provided to determine the support load of a project (high, average or low). A detailed assessment of the amount of support needed (in hours) will be performed in the review process itself by the ASTRON personnel. This amount will be treated as a limited resource. Projects requiring a high degree of support should really consider using the ‘user shared support’ mode. More details about the project features that can raise the degree of support are explained below. 

User shared-support mode

Science teams that have proven expertise in particular LOFAR observing modes and/or observing support procedures can provide personnel to handle the support workload for their full project, i.e. users are expected to handle their own projects for the full budget of allocated telescope time. This should be clearly written in the proposal. Before the start of Cycle 15, these users will be updated by ASTRON on current procedures & tools to handle the data flow for their project.

High and low support load

Examples of project features requiring high levels of support include, but are not limited to: 

  • Short observations or sets of observations, especially when scheduled on different days. e.g., 2 hour interferometric observations, “lucky imaging” and “interleaved observations”.
  • Parallel observations (e.g. commonly used setups for scintillometry and solar studies.
  • Restrictive scheduling constraints, e.g., at specific orbital phases; commensal with other telescopes;
  • Responsive Telescope
  • Updates to target lists during the cycles
  • Manual execution of system tasks (e.g. dynamic spectrum pipeline, manual ingests)
  • Multi-beam observations with >4 beams


Projects can lower the required level of support by ASTRON by adopting the following criteria:

  • Large fraction of user support in administering the project [ “user shared support mode”, explained in the previous Section]
  • In particular, projects satisfying all or most of the requirements below are considered low support:
    • can use randomly occurring time slots with no LST constrain and flexible duration
    • can be rapidly started, e.g. because their setup does not require changes or can be automatically selected
    • are conducted almost entirely by the project team with little or no involvement from Observatory staff.
    • have significant independent processing resources and place little or no pressure on the ILT data processing queue.
    • have significant flexibility in terms of the minimum number of stations required.
Design: Kuenst.    Development: Dripl.    © 2021 ASTRON