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FarView: A Lunar Far Side Radio Telescope to Explore The Cosmic Dark Ages

Presentation #206.10 in the session New Mission Concepts — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
FarView: A Lunar Far Side Radio Telescope to Explore The Cosmic Dark Ages

We present results from a NIAC Phase I study of FarView, a low frequency (5‑40 MHz) radio observatory that will be manufactured on the lunar far side using almost exclusively lunar materials. We discuss FarView’s science, enabling technology, system architecture, and implementation approach as well as technology roadmaps and precursor missions, within the context of a science and technology roadmap for lunar far side radio science.

FarView is a sparse array of ~100,000 10-meter dipole antennas covering a ~120 km2 area to be built on the lunar far side to shield it from Earth’s radio noise that would limit its performance. The innovative elements enabling FarView are the near exclusive use of in situ resources and manufacturing to build the observatory, including the antennas and power generation infrastructure.

FarView will measure the power spectrum of the 21-cm Dark Ages signal. Interferometric measurements of the spatial fluctuations will uniquely test the standard cosmological model at the onset of structure formation, without the complication of highly non-linear baryonic effects. Any departure from these well-constrained predictions will provide important new insights on the physics of structure formation, the nature of dark matter, early dark energy, or any exotic physics. Fundamentally, such observations could also measure the ultimate number of linear modes in the 3D density field and lead to exquisite cosmological constraints, including the masses of neutrinos and their hierarchy, the non-Gaussianity of initial density perturbation, and the imprints of primordial gravitational waves to reveal the complexity and energy scale of cosmic inflation.

FarView is enabled by two Lunar Resources’ developed technologies: molten regolith electrolysis and vacuum vapor deposition. These revolutionary technologies first extract metals and oxygen from lunar regolith and then use the extracted metals including aluminum, silicon, and magnesium, to manufacture antennas, solar cells, and batteries. By landing ~1 ton of “tools” we can extract and manufacture many tons of functional products. FarView will be fully serviceable using in situ manufacturing and occasional system upgrades from Earth.

This work is funded by NIAC.

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