FarView – An In-Situ Manufactured Lunar Far Side Radio Observatory

Authors: Ronald S. Polidan, Jack Burns, Alex Ignatiev, Javier Lopez Jr., and Elliot Carol

Description: We will discuss interim results from a NIAC funded concept study of FarView: a low frequency (5‑40 MHz) radio observatory that will be built on the lunar farside using almost exclusively lunar regolith materials. FarView will be a sparse array of ~100,000 dipole antennas populating a ~10×10 km area on the lunar far side.  Building FarView on the lunar far side is required to shield it from Earth’s anthropogenic and natural radio noise that would severely limit its performance.  The innovative technology elements enabling FarView will be the near exclusive use of in situ resources and on-site manufacturing of almost all system elements for the radio observatory, including dipole antennas, wiring, power generation and energy storage systems. FarView science is focused upon investigation in exquisite detail of the unexplored Cosmic Dark Ages using the highly redshifted hydrogen 21-cm line and identifying the conditions and processes under which the first stars, galaxies, and accreting black holes formed.  This radio telescope will be the first of its kind at this scale and sensitivity and will open a new window (low frequency radio) into the early universe.  FarView will be continuously serviceable and evolvable using in situ manufacturing with occasional system upgrades from Earth.  It will be lower cost and have a longer lifetime than a complete antenna array launched from Earth. The key enabling technology is the molten regolith electrolysis (MRE) facility developed by Lunar Resources.  This revolutionary technology is a high-temperature electrolytic process in which the naturally high-oxide lunar regolith is liquefied by electric current to produce metals and oxygen.  By landing ~300 kg of “tools” we can extract ~7 MT of metals and ~10 MT of oxygen per year. FarView’s development of lunar surface infrastructure (power and energy storage systems, in-space manufacturing assets, space mining assets) will enable future lunar surface scientific and commercial missions.  The demonstration of the extraction and refinement of oxygen and metallics and the utilization of these materials to manufacture functional components will enable future lunar outposts and advance human spaceflight activities on the surface of the Moon and Mars.