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Thread: China Is Planning to Turn the Moon Into a Giant Space Shield

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    China Is Planning to Turn the Moon Into a Giant Space Shield

    Why didn't we think of this? Put satellites in moon orbit to avoid noise from earth.

    China Is Planning to Turn the Moon Into a Giant Space Shield

    Chinese astronomers aim to peer for the first time into the cosmic dark ages, an unexplored era about 200 million years after the Big Bang, by using the Moon as a shield to block out noisy radio signals caused by human activity on Earth, reports the South China Morning Post.

    The Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelength (DSL) mission envisions sending a fleet of satellites to the Moon that could capture ultralong radio waves made by hydrogen atoms in the darkness before cosmic dawn, when the first stars were born bursting with radiant light.

    These ancient radio signals contain juicy secrets about the early universe, but they are challenging to pick up from Earth because our planet is bustling with natural and artificial radio interference. For this reason, many scientists have proposed building telescopes or arrays on the far side of the Moon, where this earthly noise can be tuned out.

    The mission, which is nicknamed Hongmeng after the primordial mist of Chinese mythology, offers a riff on this idea that sidesteps the headaches of landing and constructing an observatory on the Moons surface.

    Instead, Hongmeng would consist of six to nine daughter satellites in a circular orbit around the Moon, along with a mother satellite tasked with communicating to ground teams, which would together create a mobile array capable of picking up radio signals from the dark days before starlight existed. This approach allows the Moon to shield the radio frequency interferences (RFIs) from the Earth, according to an outline of the mission published in a 2020 issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

    Chen Xuelei, a professor at the National Astronomical Observatory at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who serves as the project scientist for DSL, said the mission could provide a first peek of the cosmic dawn and dark age as well as potential for great discoveries across a host of other fields such as Sun science, planets and exoplanets, and radio signals from other galaxies.

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