If all goes according to plan, a radio telescope from the northern Dutch province of Drenthe will be on board a Chinese satellite to the moon on 21 May.
By Hans de Preter / Translation by Traci White
The instrument was developed by ASTRON, a Dutch radio astronomy institute in Drenthe. The radio telescope will travel to the far side of the moon to measure radio waves. Scientists hope the measurements will shed more light on the period immediately following the Big Bang.
According to RTV Drenthe, the device was built in Dwingeloo in collaboration with the ISIS aerospace company from Delft and Radboud University in Nijmegen. The radio antenna, named NCLE (Netherlands Chinese Low-Frequency Explorer), will enable astronomers to measure radio waves from distant stars and galaxies. The data should help researchers better understand how the planets were formed and, ultimately, the origins of mankind.
Albert Jan Boonstra of ASTRON says that it is impossible to measure the radio waves with precision from earth’s surface due to interference from radio towers. It is also difficult for the waves to penetrate earth’s atmosphere. The far side of the moon is a quieter environment, which is ideal for taking the measurements.