The construction of the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope is nearly finished. LOFAR is currently being
prepared to run a large variety of science projects for the years to come. LOFAR is a geographically widely distributed
radio telescope consisting of, currently, 41 separate stations, or antenna fields. The majority of stations is situated in the
northern part of the Netherlands. These Dutch stations are complemented by 8 stations in Germany, France, UK and
LOFAR uses a novel design with phased array technology for the antenna fields. It is built to receive sky signals with
frequencies between 10 and 250 MHz, for which is uses two different types of antenna. LOFAR stations produce up to 4
Gb/s of digital data each, which are sent to a central processing facility hosted by the University of Groningen computing
center, CIT. There the data streams are combined and processed to produce astronomically meaningful data. The
processed data is archived in several large datacenters and made available to end-users.
LOFAR produces science for radio pulsar studies, cosmic ray studies, sensitive wide-field imaging and many other
applications. Much of the flexibility of LOFAR has been made possible by the abundant use of software and general
purpose programmable hardware in its design.
The versatility and geographical spread of the telescope stations and its resources leads to fascinating challenges in
operations and maintenance. In this presentation I will present the operational concepts and challenges of the LOFAR
telescope, and the solutions the LOFAR team has created for these.