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Characterizing the RF Quiescence of the Lunar Far Side Using a Constellation of Small Satellites

Bergman, JES, Bridges, Christopher, Bruhn, F, Gao, Yang, Lappas, V, Liddle, D, Mouginis-Mark, P, Nunes, M, Palmer, P, Sorensen, T and Underwood, Craig (2014) Characterizing the RF Quiescence of the Lunar Far Side Using a Constellation of Small Satellites In: European Planetary Science Congress 2014, 07 – 12 September 2014, Cascais, Portugal.

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Observations of highly red-shifted 21-cm hydrogen signals have been suggested as the only means to probe the early Universe from recombination to reionization. During this era, called the Dark Ages, the Universe consisted of neutral hydrogen gas and was opaque to light. It did not become transparent, as we see it today, until reionization was completed. The Dark Ages was the time period when matter clumped together, the very first stars and black holes were born, and, eventually, the first galaxies were formed. To enable observations of the Dark Ages is therefore one of the top priorities in cosmology and astrophysics. Today, the cosmological 21-cm signals are highly red-shifted and should peak in the FM radio band. Observing the Dark Ages from Earth is therefore next to impossible, due to man-made radio frequency interference (RFI) and ionospheric disturbances. To efficiently block the RFI, which would otherwise overwhelm the weak cosmological signal; it has been proposed to use the Moon as a radio shield and either place a satellite equipped with an ultra-sensitive radio instrument in lunar orbit or to deploy a large low-frequency radio array on the far-side of the Moon. Such missions are technically challenging and expensive and have so far failed to gain support from any national or international space program. Our goal is therefore to use a constellation of small inexpensive satellites in lunar orbit to collect pathfinder data, which would demonstrate EPSC Abstracts Vol. 9, EPSC2014-798, 2014 European Planetary Science Congress 2014 c Author(s) 2014 EPSC European Planetary Science Congress the feasibility of using the Moon as a radio shield, and map out the spatial extent of this RF quiescent zone to support future missions to explore the cosmos. This paper examines the design and radio payload of this mission. Alternative orbits, constellation and payload designs are analyzed to optimize the mission for performance and cost.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Electronic Engineering
Authors :
Bergman, JES
Bruhn, F
Lappas, V
Liddle, D
Mouginis-Mark, P
Nunes, M
Palmer, P
Sorensen, T
Date : 2014
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 21 Sep 2018 12:21
Last Modified : 21 Sep 2018 12:21

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