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The LOPES project was a cosmic ray detector array, located in Karlsruhe, Germany, and is operated in coincidence with an existing, well calibrated air shower experiment called KASCADE. In 2013, after approximately 10 years of measurements, LOPES was finally switched off and dismantled. There are different ways to observe cosmic rays, or, more accurately, the air showers that cosmic rays produce when they enter our atmosphere. Traditionally, one directly measures the shower products that make it all the way to the surface. These may be detected by using for example particle counters. In the case of KASCADE, the muons in the shower produce a short flash of Cherenkov light when they traverse a slab of scintillator material. These flashes can be registered using photomultipliers. The LOPES project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a different technique, in which not the shower products themselves are observed, but secondary radio radiation that is generated by the shower. Charged particles in the shower, mostly electrons and positrons, are deflected slightly in Earth's magnetic field. As these particles change direction, they emit synchrotron radiation. This radiation is visible as a bright flash on the sky for several nanoseconds at frequencies up to a few hundred MHz. It is hoped that the LOPES project will pave the way for more cosmic ray experiments with digital radio telescopes, such as LOFAR.
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