In the first stage NASA The idea was to see robots fix wire nets in a crater far from the moon and create a radio telescope to explore the rise of the universe.
After years of development, the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) project received $ 500,000 to support overtime as it entered the second phase of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIIC) program. Although not yet a NASA mission, the LCRT describes a mission concept that could change mankind’s view of the universe.
The main purpose of the LCRT is to measure the long-wave radio waves produced by the cosmic dark ages – hundreds of millions of years later. The Big BangBut before the first stars began to exist. Cosmologists knew very little about this period, but at the time they answered some of the greatest mysteries in science that could be limited to long-wave radio radiation from the gas that could fill the universe.
Said Joseph Lazio, a radio astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and a member of the LCRT team. “With Earth’s large enough radio telescopes, it is possible to track the processes leading to the formation of the first stars and find clues about the nature of dark matter.”
Earth’s radio telescopes cannot explore this nigu period, because from that moment on, long-wavelength radio waves reflect a layer of ions and electrons at the top of our atmosphere, the ionosphere. The random radio emission of our gloomy civilization will disrupt radio astronomy and fill in the weak signals.
But on the far side of the moon there is no atmosphere that reflects these signals, and the moon itself interrupts the earth’s radio conversations. The far side of the moon is an important medicine for the unprecedented study of the early universe.
Earth’s radio telescopes cannot see cosmic radio waves at an altitude of 33 feet [10 meters] Saptarchi Bandyupadhyaya, robotic technologist Jet Propulsion Laboratory And Chief Investigator of the LCRT Project. “But previous ideas for building a radio antenna on the moon were resourceful and complex, so we had to find something different.”
Manufacture of telescopes with robots
To be sensitive to long radio wavelengths, the LCRT must be very large. The idea is to create an antenna more than 1 km wide in a crater more than 3 km wide. The largest single-plate radio telescope on Earth – China’s 500-meter spherical telescope (FAST) and the currently defunct 305-meter-wide telescope. Built by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico – in a state of natural depression, providing a structure similar to the vessels in the landscape.
This section of the radio telescope uses thousands of reflective panels suspended within the depression, reflecting radio waves over the entire surface of the vessel. The receiver then hangs through a system of cables at a focal point above the vessel, anchoring the towers within the perimeter of the vessel, and the radio waves emanating from the curved surface below. But despite its size and complexity, even the speed is not sensitive to radio wavelengths greater than 4.3 meters.
Together with the engineers, robotics scientists, and scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this class of radio instrumentalists reduced radio telescopes to a simpler form. Their idea is to eliminate the need to carry heavy objects to the moon and use robots to automate the construction process. Instead of using thousands of reflection panels to focus the received radio waves, the LCRT is made of thin wire mesh in the center of the hole. A spacecraft will connect to the network, and within a few days or weeks a special lander will invest in dual axle rovers to build the antenna.
Duaxel, an automatic concept developed in JPL, consists of two universal passenger cars (called axles) that can be separated from each other but connected by a rope. Half will act as a presenter at the end of the pit while the others go down to build the building.
“Duaxel solves many of the problems associated with suspending such a large antenna inside the lunar crater,” said Patrick McGarry, a robotic technologist at JPL and a member of the LCRT and Duaxel project team. “When the axle rovers are attached to the wires, they can enter the pit, squeeze the wires and lift the wires to suspend the antenna.”
Identify the challenges
They will use NIC second phase funding to take the project to the next level, improving telescope capabilities and various mission methods.
The biggest challenge facing the team at this stage is the design of the cable network. To maintain the shape of the parabola and the exact distance between the wires, the mesh must be strong and flexible, but light enough to move. The network must also be able to withstand wild temperature changes on the lunar surface, starting at minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (Minus 173 of the grid Celsius) Up to 260 F (127 C) – no distortion or damage.
Another challenge is whether to fully automate docs compounds or to incorporate a human component into the decision-making process. Can Duaxels build with other construction technologies? For example, launching horns on the lunar surface would make the LCRT network more stable, requiring fewer robots.
Also, the far side of the moon is now “radio-quiet”, which may change in the future. The Chinese space agency is currently on a mission to explore the far side of the moon, and further development of the lunar surface will influence radio astronomical projects.
Over the next two years, the LCRT team will work to identify other challenges and questions. If successful, they can be selected for further development, which is a repetitive process that inspires the bandopadhyay.
“The development of this concept may lead to some significant advances along the way, especially in terms of implementation technologies and the use of robots to build giant extraterrestrial structures.” “I am proud to work with this diverse team of experts who inspire the world to think of great ideas that can lead to innovative discoveries about the universe in which we live.”
NIC is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for developing new technologies and comprehensive capabilities required by the agency.
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