China

How radio astronomers will tune into the cosmic dawn from the far side of the Moon


By processing the information gathered by these telescopes, astronomers have been able to detect new kinds of objects, such as pulsars and quasars, and use radio waves emanating from distant hydrogen clouds to map out the structures of faraway galaxies.


Conversely, a small instrument developed by astronomer Marc Klein Wolt's team at Radboud University and sent along as part of the Chang'e-4 mission to the Moon, very much was.


Developed in partnership with Dutch radio astronomy organization ASTRON and private company Innovative Solution in Space, the NCLE – Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer – instrument hitched a ride to the Moon on the Queqiao satellite back in May.


We put a few questions to Klein Wolt about the traditional troubles in getting radio astronomy into space, how these challenges were overcome and his hopes for this relatively small but potentially game-changing instrument.


Digital processing has also made some big steps over the last couple of years to allow for high performance with significantly less power, which has created more options for space applications.


So with our instrument on the Queqiao satellite we are paving the way for future larger science missions, and in the process are opening up the last virtually unexplored regime for astronomy.






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