Making a 100,000 Unit Radio Telescope Over 400 Square Kilometers on the Moon

FarView is a low frequency (5-40 MHz) radio telescope array comprised of 100,000 dipole antennas that is enabled by the manufacture of these dipoles on the lunar surface. Lunar Resources is a company working on this and other projects.

This is a 2021 NASA NIAC study.

FarView will be a sparse array of ~100,000 dipole antennas populating a ~20×20 km area. The innovative technology elements enabling FarView will be the near exclusive use of ISRU and on-site manufacturing of almost all system elements for the radio array, including power generation and energy storage systems. FarView science is focused upon investigation in exquisite detail of the unexplored Cosmic Dark Ages using the highly redshifted hydrogen 21-cm line and identifying the conditions and processes under which the first stars, galaxies, and accreting black holes formed No equivalent observatory exists today. This radio telescope will be the first of its kind at this scale and sensitivity and will open a new window (low frequency radio) into the early universe, analogous to the detection of gravitational waves by LIGO and the details of the CMB by Planck. These measurements cannot be made from Earth due to Earth-generated radio noise and the ionosphere. FarView will be evolvable and long-lived using in-situ manufacturing techniques and occasional system upgrades from Earth. It will be of lower cost and longer lifetime than a complete antenna array launched from Earth.

Development of lunar surface infrastructure (power systems, energy storage systems, in-space manufacturing assets, space mining assets) to enable future lunar surface scientific and commercial missions. Extraction and refinement of oxygen and metallics from regolith processing activities to be used for future lunar outpost and other in-space manufacturing and human spaceflight activities on the lunar surface and in-space.

They will use lunar regolith electrolysis to extract metals from the regolith.

FarView’s primary science is to probe the unexplored Dark Ages (before the first stars form, when the Universe was filled with newly-formed neutral hydrogen) through the Cosmic Dawn (after first stars, galaxies, and accreting black holes form), through to the ionized intergalactic medium we see today. FarView achieves this by utilizing the lunar far side to shield it from the Earth’s natural and anthropomorphic radio interference that prohibit these observations from being made on Earth.

Lunar Resource Extraction
Lunar Resources’ molten regolith electrolysis technologies are leading the extraction of high-purity oxygen and metals from the lunar soil. The technologies utilize no consumable reagents or supplies, able to process any type of lunar soil, and designed to be operated at large-scale allowing humanity to utilize the resources of space economically.

Lunar Metallurgy
Lunar Resources is pioneering a range of metallurgy technologies related to casting and alloying metals in low gravity and vacuum environments. Current technology focuses include production of manufacturing feedstock, structural elements, and cables.

Molten Regolith Electrolysis: The Extraction of Oxygen from Lunar Regolith – SBIR $125k

Molten regolith electrolysis (MRE) is a high-temperature electrolytic process in which the naturally high-oxide lunar regolith is dissolved in a molten oxide solvent comprising already liquefied regolith and by the action of electric current is dissociated to electrowin liquid metal as a product and oxygen as a by-product. The process involves using an extractor reactor and a refiner reactor. The liquid metals can be extracted in sequence according to the stabilities of their oxides as expressed by the values of the free energy of oxide formation (e.g. Cr, Mn, Fe, Si, Ti, Al, Mg, and Ca). The Moon is rich in mineral resources capable of sustaining the production of oxygen, Si, and a variety of metals, (e.g., Fe, Al, and Ti). However, the extraction of these elements will require the use of rather different processes from those used on Earth 10. For example, mineral beneficiation has been an enduring paradigm in terrestrial extractive metallurgy for economic reasons but the reliance on such unit operations as froth flotation with its attendant consumption of huge quantities of water summarily disqualifies beneficiation from consideration in the lunar setting. To eliminate the need for beneficiation prior to processing and to minimize the import of consumable reagents from Earth, the project team proposes to advance MRE for the production of oxygen using lunar regolith as feedstock that has not been subjected to any form of pretreatment.

MW Program

The MW program is a multi-technology program to construct large-scale power grids on lunar surface from in-situ produced power grid elements. These elements include in-situ photovoltaic arrays and transmission lines to generate and distribute ultra-low cost electrical power on the lunar surface at a global scale.

Regolith Additive Manufacturing Program
The Regolith Additive Manufacturing program leverages Lunar Resources PE3D additive manufacturing technology to fabricate vertical and horizontal structures from lunar regolith without binding material. The program is a revolution in lunar additive manufacturing as it utilizes the PE3D low-average source power capabilities to efficiency additively manufacture regolith with high density, low power, and no consumables in complex structures.

2 thoughts on “Making a 100,000 Unit Radio Telescope Over 400 Square Kilometers on the Moon”

  1. Very exciting program!! I would love to know more about the time before stars. This tech also makes other ventures possible ,like solar shields at L1.
    Starship clearing its throat, makes more ambitious lunar development possible. You can imagine the next rocket after New Glenn,Armstrong? With 40 BE4’s, and with nuclear powered tugs ,we can move around a lot of material.
    Brian,you have to be going to the launch, what a sight to see, like the first ships.

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