Nature: “Are telescopes on the moon doomed before they’ve even been built?”

swaths of colors, black, red, and blue with crescent moon
Crescent Moon at Sunset from the ISS. Credit NASA

The dark side of the Moon is a unique and precious location for radio astronomers. Noise from Earth is blocked, allowing cosmology research to take place without electromagnetic interference. Nature magazine asks in recent article, “Are telescopes on the moon doomed before they’ve even been built?” Currently the dark side of the Moon is the most radio-quiet in the Solar System. A coming boom in missions to that area may change that, if precautions are not taken. The first of the new crop of missions to arrive should be LuSEE (Lunar Surface Electromagnetic Experiment) in 2026. PI Stuart Bale of SSL says that to preserve the relative quietude, it will be crucial to limit noise from the spacecraft itself. If all future lunar missions, including commercial ones, actively seek ways to limit radio-frequency interference, it could greatly reduce the threat to scientific experiments—but “to suppress interference to the level necessary to do precision radioastronomy is incredibly difficult”, says astronomer Andrew Siemion, who leads the Breakthrough Listen search for extraterrestrial intelligence project at UC Berkeley.

See article in Nature