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

There’s a call to protect the Moon’s farside, but doing so is complicated by the current, new race to the Moon.

The farside is unique 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.

Crater Daedalus on the lunar farside as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft in lunar orbit.
Credit: NASA

Therefore, protecting the Moon’s farside from a variety of non-scientific future exploitations (e.g. real estate, tourism and military) has long been a concern for many far-sighted space scientists, explains Claudio Maccone of the International Academy of Astronautics and Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy.

Radio-noise free

Maccone is no stranger to this issue. In 2010, he presented the case for the Moon farside protection at the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs in Vienna, during a meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

“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.”

Circular piece of real estate

Maccone’s concerns and views are expressed in a new 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.

Daedalus Crater Base for RFI-free Radio astronomy, astrobiology and SETI science.
Credit: Claudio Maccone

Doing so 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.

The European Space Agency is exploring 3D printing of habitats and other structures on the Moon.
Credit: RegoLight, visualization: Liquifer Systems Group, 2018

Think ahead and preserve

Future space planners “need to think ahead and preserve the precious space resources that still remain unpolluted by humankind,” Maccone notes. “For this reason, we want to protect the lunar farside, which is ideal for a future radio telescope or phased array detectors, from any human-made radio pollution.”

The paper proposes location of the first Radio Frequency Interference-free 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.

“The farside cannot be left to the realtor’s speculations,” Maccone concludes, “this is an urgent matter!”

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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