Radboud Radio Lab and ATG Engineering work together for ESA lunar mission

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Radboud University’s Radboud Radio Lab and the technology company ATG Europe will work even closer together to build a radio telescope on the dark side of the moon. This cooperative venture is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) larger programme of multiple missions to the moon.

As part of the ESA’s major mission programme Terrae Novae , Radboud astronomer Marc Klein Wolt is coordinating a ’topical team’. The team, which features 50 international scientists, is dedicated to building a radio telescope on the dark side of the moon. This telescope will enable astronomers to measure radio waves emitted by the universe just after the Big Bang. They are hoping to learn more about how the universe evolved from that point on.

" ATG Europe was part of our team already, but now we will be working together more intensively, and the company will have a larger role," says Marc Klein Wolt. "We will work together on new technologies, like inflatable structures, flexible solar cells and lightweight electronics that can survive in the extreme conditions on the moon."

"The project seems quite a challenging idea at the moment, but it could be a flagship project for the European exploration programme in the future," says Gian Carlo Coletta, CEO of ATG Europe.

The ESA lander with the antennae is expected to travel to the dark side of the moon around 2033. But there is also a mission planned to the south pole of the moon a little earlier, around 2028, says Klein Wolt. "Space has already been reserved for us so we can send up a small telescope that we can test with. The first studies are almost ready for it now."

In addition to the work Klein Wolt and his colleagues are doing for the ESA missions, he is also in talks with scientists at America’s NASA to investigate whether Dutch antennae could also be sent on their missions to the moon.