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Are Telescopes on the Moon Doomed?

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For radioastronomers, the far side of the Moon could be the last unspoilt refuge in the Solar System. Planet Earth — and all the human-made electromagnetic noise it spews out into space — stays permanently below the horizon, so that any radio observatories positioned there would be free to observe the cosmos without interference.

But an upcoming boom in lunar exploration could put that at risk. In the next ten years or so, the Moon will be the target of hundreds of orbiters and landers, each of which could create radio noise. Researchers voiced their concerns last month at a conference called Astronomy from the Moon: The Next Decades, which took place at the Royal Society in London.

“This is probably the most radio-quiet place in the Solar System, and we need to preserve that,” said Marc Klein Wolt, an astronomer at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

“Will the far side remain dark? You should already be nervous that I’m asking the question,” Joseph Lazio, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told the…



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