Monday, October 9, 2023

Using The Far Side Of The Moon for A Bold Scientific Experiment

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Cosmology, Solar System, Earth & Space Science, Cosmology, Astrophysics, Computer Science

Ed Hessler

In news from Berkeley Lab, writer Lauren Biron calls our attention to the fact that "there are unexplored regions of the universe - and there are also unexplored times." There is, she continues, "a nearly 400-million-year gap in our universe's history that we've never seen." The time "before stars known as the Dark Ages." 

Investigating this era in the history of the universe has until this experiment been impossible because the needed "particular radio signal can't be measured from Earth. The first step to listening for it is a pathfinder project known as the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night, or LuSEE-Night. The experiment is slated to head to the moon in 2025, where it will test technology in the harsh lunar environment."

What the moon offers is "a shield, blocking out radio waves from Earth. And by gathering data only during the two-week lunar night, the experiment can also block out radio waves from the sun." In an understatement if ever there was one, "this isolated spot also brings challenges. LuSEE-Night must operate in temperatures around -280 degrees Fahrenheit, then weather an extreme swing to 250 degree Fahrenheit during lunar day, when it will recharge its batteries. And because the far side of the moon never faces Earth, direct communication with the experiment is impossible. LuSEE-Night will have to send all its data through a relay satellite that passes overhead." I wanted to add several explanation points to each item on this list.

Biron's essay includes a listing of key takeaways, a video showing the experiment's landing site, a description of events that followed the Big Bang, the scientific assumption this experiment is based on, how very small that very tiny dip in radio waves that signals the Dark Ages is, going from the lab to the moon which includes some of scientific and engineering design challenges. This is a formidable experiment.

I'd not heard of this upcoming experiment and found its description compelling reading. I say this frequently, but what times to be alive and learn what science, engineering and the computing sciences tell us about the natural world.

Here is the link to Lauren Biron's essay. 
The far side of the moon is "far out".

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