There is a radio telescope on the far aspect of the moon now – CNET

NCLE is mounted on the Chinese language QueQiao relay satellite tv for pc orbiting behind the moon.

Chinese language Aerospace Science and Expertise Corp.

It has been a dream of numerous astronomers for generations: a telescope situated on the far aspect of the moon, with out radio transmissions, an environment and all the opposite issues on Earth that may get in the best way of a transparent view of deep area.

Excellent news, area followers: The dream lastly got here true final week when the antennas on a Dutch-Chinese language radio telescope unfolded behind the moon. 

The Netherlands-China Low Frequency Explorer is a part of China’s Chang’e four mission that despatched a lander and rover to the far aspect of the moon together with a satellite tv for pc named QueQiao. NCLE is a radio telescope made up of three lengthy antennas mounted on QueQiao that is designed to hear for low-frequency indicators.

The objective is to search for weak radio indicators originating from a interval simply after the Massive Bang that is also known as the darkish ages by cosmologists. Such indicators are blocked by Earth’s environment, which is why NCLE is ideally fitted to hanging out behind the moon.


This sequence of three pictures was taken in the course of the unfolding of an antenna on the QueQiao satellite tv for pc. The antenna is the black-and-white rod pointed away from the digicam.

Marc Klein Wolt / Radboud College

The NCLE crew needed to watch for over a yr to unfold its antennas, which was longer than initially deliberate, whereas QueQiao was busy working as a communications relay for the lander on the lunar floor. Spending extra time than anticipated hanging in area behind the moon appears to have affected NCLE. It had a tough time utterly unfolding its antennas. 

The Netherlands-based crew determined to first gather information utilizing the partially unfolded antennas, which ought to enable for detection of indicators from about 800 million years after the Massive Bang. Later they might strive once more to unfold them utterly to focus on information from nearer to the daybreak of the universe. 

“We’re lastly in enterprise,” NCLE science chief Heino Falcke mentioned in a launch. “The primary information will reveal how nicely the instrument really performs.”  

NCLE will first goal the solar and Jupiter, that are thought to emit strongly at low frequencies, however they’re going to even be listening for indicators from a lot deeper in area and time.

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China’s voyage to the far aspect of the moon


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