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A Roadmap for Radio Astronomy from the Moon

Presentation #231.03 in the session “Startling New Technology, Big and Small”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
A Roadmap for Radio Astronomy from the Moon

A new era of exploration of the low radio frequency Universe from the Moon will soon be underway with landed payload missions facilitated by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. CLPS landers are scheduled to deliver two radio science experiments, ROLSES to the nearside and LuSEE to the farside, beginning in 2021. These instruments would be pathfinders for a 10-km diameter interferometric array, FARSIDE, composed of 128 pairs of dipole antennas proposed to be delivered to the lunar surface later in the decade. ROLSES and LuSEE, operating at frequencies from 100 kHz to a few tens of MHz, will investigate the plasma environment above the lunar surface and measure the fidelity of radio spectra on the surface. Both use electrically-short, spiral-tube deployable antennas and radio spectrometers based upon previous flight models. ROLSES will measure the photoelectron sheath to better understand the charging of the lunar surface via photoionization and impacts from the solar wind, charged dust, and current anthropogenic radio frequency interference. LuSEE will measure the local magnetic field and exo-ionospheric density, interplanetary radio bursts, Jovian and terrestrial natural radio emission, and the galactic synchrotron spectrum. FARSIDE, and its precursor risk-reduction six antenna-node array PRIME, would be the first radio interferometers on the Moon. FARSIDE would break new ground by imaging radio emission from Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) beyond 2 solar radii, monitor auroral radiation from the B-fields of Uranus and Neptune (not observed since Voyager), and detect radio emission from stellar CMEs and the magnetic fields of nearby potentially habitable exoplanets.

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