Radio wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the photoElectron Sheath

Photo of Radio wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the photoElectron Sheath
  • Project Type: Project
  • Acronym: ROLSES
  • Class: Instrument

The ROLSES radio-frequency spectrometer will study the conditions that could affect future radio observations from the Moon. The instrument will have four, 8-foot- (2.5-meter-) long, spring-loaded antennas that will unfurl after ROLSES’ delivery lander touches down on the Moon. The quiet desolation of the far side of the Moon makes it the perfect environment for hosting radio receivers that can detect muffled signals of energy from the early universe. Because these signals have been traveling through space for billions of years, they have lost most of their energy and are hard to detect. In fact, radio waves have the lowest energy of all electromagnetic light. Many objects in space emit these waves, but detecting them from Earth (or from the side of the Moon facing Earth) is a challenge because of the interference from the cacophony produced by our TV and radio transmissions. Additionally, above the Earth’s atmosphere is a layer of particles charged by solar and cosmic radiation called the ionosphere, which absorbs the lowest-frequency radio waves (less than about 10 megahertz). This is one of the reasons we send radio instruments into space. If you’re close to Earth and trying to make detections, you’re looking for frequencies that cannot get to the ground.                                                                                                                                                                                         

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