Proceedings PaperLOFAR: first of a new generation of radio telescopes
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Aperture plane detection of cosmic radio signals can confer several important advantages. The mechanical signal processing of conventional parabolic dish antennas can be replaced by signal processing purely in electronics and software, thereby placing aperture plane array instruments in a regime with decreasing future costs. Aperture arrays using all-sky element antennas also allow multiple, independent, full sensitivity telescopes to be formed in software. The Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) project aims to realize these advantages in a previously largely unexplored frequency domain, 10-240 MHz. Consisting of up to eight shared aperture telescopes operated independently over internet, it will explore the epoch of re-ionization, open the transient radio Universe to systematic study, record ultra-high energy cosmic particles and add a new dimension to solar and space physics research.