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NASA Moon Space Science

Radio Telescopes on Moon to Study Cosmic Dark Ages 118

The Narrative Fallacy brings news that NASA has awarded a $500,000 grant to develop plans for an array of radio telescopes to be located on the moon. The telescopes would be used to gather data from the earliest stars and galaxies, observations of which are difficult from Earth due to the ionosphere and terrestrial broadcasts. The grant was part of NASA's sponsoring of 19 "Next Generation Astronomy Missions." Quoting: "The Lunar Array for Radio Cosmology (LARC) project ... is planned as a huge array of hundreds of telescope modules designed to pick up very-low-frequency radio emissions. The array will cover an area of up to two square kilometers; the modules would be moved into place on the lunar surface by automated vehicles. The new lunar telescopes would add greatly to the capabilities of a low-frequency radio telescope array now under construction in Western Australia, one of the most radio-quiet areas on Earth."
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Radio Telescopes on Moon to Study Cosmic Dark Ages

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  • Re:Outstanding (Score:4, Informative)

    by fred fleenblat ( 463628 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @07:19PM (#22509254) Homepage
    >> little radio interference from the earth

    Further, I suspect if you set it up on the far side of the moon, you'll get zero interference from earth at all. Maybe some 60 hz hum...but kilohertz and above should be clean.
  • by usul294 ( 1163169 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @07:59PM (#22509628)
    The moon goes around the Earth, one face always faces the Earth. Over the course of 28 days the dark side of the moon will see the entire sky with a giant ball of rock in between the observatory and Earth
  • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @08:33PM (#22509920)
    The moon's orbit is not perfectly circular, and its axis of rotation is not quite perpendicular to the plane of the orbit. Those effects combine to produce an apparent rocking motion, on a time scale of weeks, called libration. Thanks to that, we can see almost 60 percent of the moon's surface at one time or another.

  • by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @08:50PM (#22510084) Homepage Journal

    The universe is a huge place, what makes NASA think that our telescopes are able to see the "earliest stars and galaxies"?

    The cosmic microwave background left over from the big bang as measured by WMAP [] tells us the approximate age of the universe. Red-shift measurements tells us the distances of the stars we observe. The speed of light tells us how long it takes for the light of those stars to get here. Ta-da.

    Or is this one of those "We are in the center of the universe" ideologies again?

    We ARE at the center of the universe. So is everywhere else. The Big Bang wasn't an explosion that filled out existing space from which there's a center. Space itself expands from that point on, so the same infinitesimal point where the big bang started is the place where you're standing in now. The standard analogy is the surface area of a balloon as you fill the balloon up. There's just no preferred center.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll