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Ultra-Long Wavelength Radio Astronomy Using the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the Farside of the Moon

Presentation #312.06 in the session Cosmology II.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Ultra-Long Wavelength Radio Astronomy Using the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the Farside of the Moon

The Cosmic Dark Ages represent the period in the early evolution of the Universe, starting immediately after the decoupling of CMB photons from matter, and ending with the formation of the first stars and galaxies. The HI signal from the neutral hydrogen atoms is the only mechanism for us to understand this crucial phase in the cosmological history of the Universe and answer fundamental questions about the validity of the standard cosmological model, dark matter physics, and inflation. Due to cosmological redshift, this signal is now only observable in the 3-30 MHz frequency band, which is blocked from reaching the surface of the Earth by the ionosphere. In this paper, we present the design of the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope that intends to carry out unprecedented measurements of this signal by deploying a 350m parabolic reflector mesh inside a lunar crater on the far side of the moon and suspending a receiver at its focus. In addition, the far side of the moon provides a radio-quiet environment for these measurements since it is shielded from terrestrial sources of radio frequency interference.

There are two independent deployment strategies currently being considered. One uses projectiles launched from a single lander at the center of the crater while the other requires two landers and employs robots that move up and down the crater walls, carrying lift wires for deploying the reflector and the receiver.

We describe the science objectives, the concept of operations for reflector and receiver deployment, crater selection process, and results obtained by simulating the electromagnetic, thermal, and structural performance of the telescope. These results help us in narrowing down the trade space in the design of the telescope and formulation of the deployment strategy.

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