NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) camera system has pieced together this impressive farside photo projection.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

 

There’s a growing call to protect the Moon’s farside, to guard this unique real estate.

Future space planners “need to think ahead and preserve the precious space resources that still remain unpolluted by humankind,” explains Claudio Maccone of the International Academy of Astronautics and Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy.

“For this reason, we want to protect the lunar farside,” Maccone adds, “which is ideal for a future radio telescope or phased array detectors, from any human-made radio pollution.”

Protected Antipode Circle, is the circular piece of land proposed to be reserved for scientific purposes only on the farside of the Moon.
Credit: Claudio Maccone

Radio-noise-free environment

This week, an International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) symposium is being held in Paris on “Lunar Farside 2019.” Spearheaded by Maccone, he will outline twenty years of IAA studies to protect the Moon farside radio-noise-free environment.

The lunar farside is where radio transmissions and noises produced by humanity on Earth may not reach since the spherical body of the Moon blocks them, acting like a shield.

“Unfortunately, the undeclared but quite real ‘current, new race to the Moon’ complicates matters terribly,” Maccone says.

“All the spacefaring nations now keep their eyes on the Moon, and only the United Nations might have a sufficient authority to protect the farside and keep safe its unique ‘radio-noise-free’ environment,” Maccone says. “But time is money, and the ‘Moon Settlers’ may well reach the Moon before the United Nations come to agree about any official decision concerning the farside protection.”

Vision of the Moon’s farside with the Daedalus Crater base for RFI-free radio astronomy, Astrobiology and SETI science. Future International Space Stations might be located at both the L4 and L5 Earth-Moon Points in the decades to come. Only Point L2 will have to be kept free at all times.
Credit: Claudio Maccone

Real estate protection

Earlier this year, Maccone’s concerns and views were expressed in a paper — Moon Farside Protection, Moon Village and PAC (Protected Antipode Circle) – published in the January 2019 issues of the journal, Acta Astronautica.

The paper defines a Protected Antipode Circle (PAC), a circular piece of real estate on the Moon’s farside that measures roughly 1,130 miles (1,820 kilometers) in diameter. Also proposed is that the projected “Moon Village” espoused by the European Space Agency’s Director General, Jan Wörner, be located outside the PAC.

A PAC prevents interfering with detection of radiation coming from space. Also south of the PAC is “close” to the lunar South Pole and access to frozen water there. “It thus appears that the best venue for the ‘Moon Village’ would be on or around the 180 meridian and possibly quite close to the South Pole,” Maccone asserts.

This cone is the portion of space above the Farside of the Moon that will never be reached by these electromagnetic waves. Thus, it is appropriately called quiet cone, where “quiet” means “radio silent”.

Commercial wars

The paper proposes location of the first Radio Frequency Interference-free site in the crater Daedalus, the most shielded crater of all on the Moon’s farside from Earth-made radio pollution.

From that RFI-free site, astronomy, astrobiology and search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) science can be carried out, Maccone explains.

Maccone also claims that the time will come when “commercial wars” among the big industrial trusts running the telecommunications business by satellites will lead them to grab more and more space around the Earth, pushing their satellites into orbits with apogee much higher than the geostationary one. Therefore a “safe” crater must be selected on the Farside along the Moon equator, he contends.

Proposal: to establish the first RFI-free base on the Moon just inside crater Daedalus, the most shielded crater of all on the Moon’s farside from Earth-made radio pollution.
Credit: NASA/Apollo 11 photo

Blinder and blinder

The mission of Maccone is to make individuals sensitive to the importance of protecting the central farside of the Moon “from any future wild, anti-scientific exploitation,” he says.

“The Farside of the Moon is a unique place for us in the whole universe: it is close to the Earth, but protected from the radio emissions that we ourselves are creating in an ever increasing amount and that is making our radio telescopes blinder and blinder.”

To view the paper — Moon Farside Protection, Moon Village and PAC (Protected Antipode Circle) – go to:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576517316478

 

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