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Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE)

by Eric Bryerton last modified May 15, 2015 by Mary Mayo

The CDL is collaborating with the University of Colorado and others in the Lunar University Node for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) program. LUNAR involves development of concepts for performing astrophysics using the Moon as the observing platform for low-frequency cosmology and astrophysics, gravitational physics and lunar structure, and radio heliophysics.  NRAO participation will include the development of concepts for low frequency telescopes and a refinement of the science case while defining the corresponding instrument requirements.  In the next few years, activities will center on the Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE) mission, a lunar orbiter concept designed to detect the strongly-redshifted (40-120 MHz) emission of primordial hydrogen atoms at the end of the so-called Dark Ages, a time when the Universe was less than 200 million years old and the first stars were beginning to light up. DARE will orbit the Moon, using the lunar rock to shield the sensitive detectors of the spacecraft from the radio interference that abounds on the Earth in the 40-120 MHz radio band. The NRAO is assisting in the development and calibration of an engineering prototype front-end which includes the bi-conical antenna and low noise electronics. If the proposed program is successful in moving toward the construction phase, the Observatory will play a key role in the design and fabrication of the DARE satellite’s antennas and radio receivers.