TitleThe Low Band Observatory (LOBO): Expanding the VLA Low Frequency Commensal System for Continuous, Broad-band, sub-GHz Observations
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKassim, N, Clarke, T, Helmboldt, J, Peters, W, Polisensky, E, Hicks, B
Conference NameAAS Meeting #225
Date Published01/2015
PublisherAmerican Astronomical Society

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) are currently commissioning the VLA Low Frequency Ionosphere and Transient Experiment (VLITE) on a subset of JVLA antennas at modest bandwidth. Its bounded scientific goals are to leverage thousands of JVLA on-sky hours per year for ionospheric and transient studies, and to demonstrate the practicality of a prime-focus commensal system on the JVLA. Here we explore the natural expansion of VLITE to a full-antenna, full-bandwidth Low Band Observatory (LOBO) that would follow naturally from a successful VLITE experience. The new Low Band JVLA receivers, coupled with the existing primary focus feeds, can access two frequency bands: 4 band (54 - 86 MHz) and P band (236-492 MHz). The 4 band feeds are newly designed and now undergoing testing. If they prove successful then they can be permanently mounted at the primary focus, unlike their narrow band predecessors. The combination of Low Band receivers and fixed, primary-focus feeds could provide continuous, broad-band data over two complimentary low-frequency bands. The system would also leverage the relatively large fields-of-view of ~10 degrees at 4 band, and ~2.5 degrees at P band, coupling an excellent survey capability with a natural advantage for serendipitous discoveries. We discuss the compelling science case that flows from LOBO's robust imaging and time domain capabilities coupled with thousands of hours of wide-field, JVLA observing time each year. We also touch on the possibility to incorporate Long Wavelength Array (LWA) stations as additional 'dishes' through the LOBO backend, to improve calibration and sensitivity in LOBO's 4 band.