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The experimental data

Dutch radio antenna to depart for the moon on Chinese mission

Date of news: 21 May 2018

On 20 May 2018*, the Chinese space agency has launched the relay satellite Chang’e 4 to an orbit behind the Moon. On board is a Dutch radio antenna, the Netherlands Chinese Low-Frequency Explorer (NCLE). The radio antenna is the first Dutch-made scientific instrument to be sent on a Chinese space mission, and it will open up a new chapter in radio astronomy. With the instrument, made by engineers from the Radboud Radio Labof Radboud University, ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in Dwingeloo, and the Delft-based company ISIS, astronomers want to measure radio waves originating from the period directly after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies were formed.

Follow the latest developments on this project at the website of Radboud Radio Lab or via Twitter: @RadRadioLab and @Radboud_Uni or @hfalcke and @MarcWolt

The far side of the moon

Why is it so important for the measuring instruments to be placed behind the moon? Professor of Astrophysics from Radboud University and ASTRON Heino Falcke: “Radio astronomers study the universe using radio waves, light coming from stars and planets, for example, which are not visible with the naked eye. We can receive almost all celestial radio wave frequencies here on Earth. We cannot detect radio waves below 30 MHz, however, as these are blocked by our atmosphere. It is these frequencies in particular that contain information about the early universe, which is why we want to measure them.”