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Minister Harris welcomes the launch of consortium to enhance space observation

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has welcomed Ireland’s involvement in founding a new consortium that will enhance scientific research and observation of the Universe. 

LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) is an international network of state-of-the-art telescopes used to observe the Universe in unprecedented detail at low radio frequencies. 

The European Commission officially set up LOFAR as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in December 2023, with Ireland as one of its founding members. 

The ERIC was launched following its first Council meeting on 22 January 2024.

LOFAR ERIC will provide easy access to a wide range of science research services for the European and global community. It will also facilitate a substation upgrade to the radio array and serve the European astronomy community with a cutting-edge suite of observing and data processing capabilities. 

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I am very pleased that Ireland is one of the founding members of the LOFAR ERIC, a new European research organisation that will facilitate closer international cooperation in areas such as physics, astrophysics and high-end computing. Ireland has a long-established and internationally recognised heritage in astronomy, and the LOFAR ERIC gives our students and researchers access to the largest low frequency radio telescope in the world.”

Dr. René Vermeulen, founding director of LOFAR ERIC, said: “The establishment of the LOFAR ERIC consolidates world-leading excellence for Europe in an important research field. With its unrivalled distributed research infrastructure and its robust pan-European partnership, the LOFAR ERIC enters the European Research Area as a powerhouse at the cutting edge of astronomy science and technology, with the potential to contribute to broader complex challenges.”

Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of the I-LOFAR Consortium at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, said: “The Irish LOFAR Consortium are delighted to be founding members of the LOFAR ERIC. The LOFAR ERIC will give us access to the very best low-frequency radio observations of astronomical objects and we are delighted that the project continues to be supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Science Foundation Ireland.”

Professor Evan Keane, Head of the I-LOFAR Telescope at Trinity College Dublin, said: “The Irish LOFAR Facility at Birr Castle will be upgraded and, as a result, will be able to make more sensitive observations of astronomical objects as part of the largest low-frequency radio telescope in the world. The upgraded LOFAR will produce ever more enormous volumes of data which makes it an exemplar of cutting edge big data science.”

The LOFAR ERIC held its first council meeting this week. The Founding Members are Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland, and it will have close collaborations with institutes in France, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


The LOFAR ERIC (Low-Frequency Array European Research Infrastructure Consortium) is securing the future of low-frequency radio astronomy by exploiting the LOFAR Distributed Research Infrastructure as a world-leading observatory for large-scale astronomical research. LOFAR ERIC consolidates Europe’s global leadership in the field. It was set up by the European Commission on 20 December 2023. LOFAR ERIC’s founding members are Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Institutes in France, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom also collaborate in LOFAR ERIC.


LOFAR is the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope operating at low radio frequencies, between 10 and 240 MHz. It is a distributed research infrastructure that consists of multiple antenna stations, geographically distributed across Europe, all driven in software and with powerful computing and massive data storage at several distributed data centres. Jointly operated, this forms a unified, highly agile and capable observing and data processing system. With a sensitivity more than a hundred times better than any previous telescope at these frequencies, unparalleled image resolution across a large field of view, and capabilities to observe simultaneously in multiple directions, LOFAR is by far the most powerful low frequency telescope on the planet, and is revolutionising our view of the low-frequency radio universe. LOFAR was originally developed by NWO-I/ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, which now hosts LOFAR ERIC and furnishes most of the LOFAR ERIC operational services. LOFAR ERIC is jointly funded by its members and partners, who are collectively implementing a major upgrade (LOFAR2.0) for substantially improved and extended scientific research capabilities. 


The Irish LOFAR project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. The I-LOFAR Consortium includes researchers and students at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, University of Galway, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, University College Cork and Technological University of the Shannon.