MAE Seminar Series

Dark Ages Cosmology Using a Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Far Side of the Moon

lunar crater.

Dr. Ashish Goel

Robotics Technologist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stanford University

April 13, 2023 | 3:30 p.m. | 337 Bell Hall


An ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope on the far side of the Moon has significant advantages compared to Earth-based and Earth-orbiting telescopes, including:
• Enabling observations of the early Universe at wavelengths longer than 10 meters (i.e., frequencies below 30 MHz), at which critical cosmological signatures from the “Dark Ages” are predicted to appear. These wavelengths cannot be observed from Earth-surface or Earth-orbit, due to Earth's ionosphere.
• The Moon acts as a physical shield, isolating a lunar surface telescope from radio interference or noise sources from the Earth’s surface, the ionosphere, Earth-orbiting satellites, and the Sun’s radio emission during the lunar night.

We propose to build a Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the far side of the Moon by deploying a 350 m diameter wire-mesh parabolic reflector in a 1.3 km diameter lunar crater on the far side, and suspending a receiver at its focus. The deployment strategy uses projectile anchors launched from a single lander at the center of the crater to set up a system of lift wires that can then be used to deploy the reflector and the feed.

In this talk, I will describe the science objectives, the concept of operations for reflector and receiver deployment, crater selection process, and results obtained by simulating the electromagnetic, thermal, and structural performance of the telescope.


Dr. Ashish Goel is a robotics technologist in the robotic surface mobility group at JPL. He currently works on an ocean world lander testbed for developing autonomy capabilities for future Europa and Enceladus missions. In addition, he has also been involved in the Venus Aerobot technology development program focusing on tether dynamics for balloon and gondola deployment, tethered platform stability, and gas exchange systems for balloon altitude control. He currently serves as the science lead for the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope project.

Dr. Goel received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University where he developed sensors and techniques for the detection and characterization of meteoroid and orbital debris impacts in space. Prior to joining JPL, he also worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Sergio Pellegrino in the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech. He developed optimized trajectories for a planar formation of space solar power satellites. He also served as a systems engineer and worked on the design of flight electronics for the Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope (AAReST) project. At JPL he has been the recipient of multiple team awards and a Voyager award for his contributions across multiple disciplines. He also has a strong interest in high altitude balloons, having launched more than 25 of them in his capacity as the Chief Scientist of Night Crew Labs.

Event Date: April 13, 2023