The ceremony took place in Irbene radio telescope complex, which brought together current and former employees of Ventspils University of Applied Sciences (VUAS) and VIRAC, representatives of the Ministry, members of the Saeima, business partners from the Netherlands, former President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis and other guests.
The event host Haralds Burkovskis invited guests to the LOFAR-LATVIA antenna field where its control unit was solemnly opened. Karlis Kreslins, Rector of VUAS briefly informed about the establishment and significance of LOFAR-LATVIA in developing VUAS and VIRAC. Dmitry Stepanov, deputy state secretary at the Ministry of Education and Science and Janis Vitolins, deputy chairman of the Ventspils City Council, who also mentioned the ability of VUAS and VIRAC to implement such an ambitious project. Representatives of the Netherlands Institute of Radio Astronomy AstroTec Holding B.V., which is a subsidiary of ASTRON, made a presentation highlighting the importance of LOFAR radio telescopes in the world and the contribution of LOFAR-LATVIA to the largest low-frequency radio telescope in radio astronomy. At the end of their presentation, Dutch colleagues expressed their gratitude to all those involved in the creation of LOFAR-LATVIA.
The second part of the ceremony was dedicated to the 25th anniversary celebrations of the VIRAC and was addressed by former directors of the centre. The guests were delighted to receive a video greeting from the former director of VIRAC Juris Zagars, looking back to the period when such important infrastructure was taken over after the collapse of the Soviet Union and protected from demolition. Valdis Avotins, for his part, gave a presentation on the ambitious development of the Radio Astronomy Center during this time, becoming a world-class science centre with a unique infrastructure. The presenter also mentioned the first director of the Radio Astronomy Center, Edgars Bervalds, and his contribution to the establishment of the centre.
In the end, rector of VUAS Karlis Kreslins and Vice-Rector for Science Indra Dedze, thanked the current and former VIRAC employees and cooperation partners for their contribution to the development of the centre.
LOFAR is the largest radio astronomy low-frequency radio telescope made up of multi-national, interconnected LOFAR antenna fields operating in the 10 to 240 MHz low frequency range and it is distinguished by its revolutionary design. LOFAR-LATVIA will be an important addition to the largest radio telescope network in the world, connected to a central station in the north of the Netherlands, forming a network of more than two thousand kilometres. With this unique tool astronomers will be able to explore and look further into the universe. By expanding the scientific infrastructure of VIRAC, VUAS recognizes itself as a serious scientific institution, which has been successfully integrated into the international scientific community and can ensure the fulfillment of high-level scientific tasks.