Chinese Satellite To Give Dutch Radio Antenna A Ride To The Moon

The radio antenna will detect radio waves, helping scientists find clues to the origins of the universe.

AsianScientist (Jul. 8, 2016) – China’s Chang’e 4 satellite space mission will be giving a Dutch radio instrument a ride to the moon.

The mission, which is slated for 2018 lift-off, is based on a partnership agreement signed by The Netherlands Space Office and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to place the first Dutch-made scientific instrument in orbit behind the moon.

The radio antenna is being developed by Radboud University, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and the Delft company Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS).

“The instrument we are developing will be a precursor to a future radio telescope in space,” said Dr. Klein Wolt, director of the Radboud Radio Lab and one of the scientific advisers of the project.

ISIS will be responsible for the system integration of the instrument and its accommodation on the satellite.

“Radio astronomers study the universe using radio waves—light coming from stars and planets, for example—which are not visible with the naked eye. We can receive almost all celestial radio wave frequencies here on Earth,” said Radboud University astronomer Dr. Heino Falcke, who is also a scientific adviser.

Placing the satellite behind the moon, where there is relatively little disturbance by radiation from sources on Earth such as the atmosphere, allows it to detect weak radio raves below 30 MHz. According to Falcke, it is these frequencies in particular that contain information about the early universe.

Another task of the antenna is to monitor the ‘weather’ in space. Powerful events such as solar storms can affect telecommunications here on Earth, and more knowledge will help scientists to better predict such events.

The research team intends to produce the first reasonably accurate map of the sky at these low frequencies, which should be possible after a few complete rotations of the satellite and moon around the earth.


Source: Radboud University; Photo: Pixabay.
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