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NASA Is Launching a New Mission to Document Space's 'Dark Ages' Post Big Bang

Image Credits: Reuters

Image Credits: Reuters

The telescope will serve to measure the long-wavelength radio waves generated by the cosmic Dark Ages.

The quest to know the secrets of how the world came into existence has always intrigued astronomers and physicists. These researchers have mapped the universe with the help of telescopes to find answers to such questions. The Hubble telescope has solved many riddles of the universe — from quasars to black holes -as it offered a view beyond Earth’s orbit. But now when the telescope is ageing, scientists are now working on setting up a new advanced telescope and will replace the old one in a crater on the Moon. $5,00,000 have already been awarded to the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), a mission concept, to support the additional work of entering Phase-II of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

The telescope will serve to measure the long-wavelength radio waves generated by the cosmic Dark Ages. This period existed for a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, before stars came into existence. “While there were no stars, there was ample hydrogen during the universe’s Dark Ages hydrogen that would eventually serve as the raw material for the first stars,” radio astronomer Joseph Lazio was quoted as saying by NASA.

It is believed that the telescope which is proposed to be officially installed by the US space agency could transform humanity’s view of the cosmos. While the Big Bang has always been the focus of cosmologists’ research to know as to how the universe came into existence, little is known about the Dark Ages — the period of a few million years after the universe’s birth.

According to astronomers, the long-wavelength radio emissions generated by the gas that filled the universe during that time could reveal many secrets.

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Why is the far side of the Moon chosen to be the best location for the mission?

The Earth’s top layer, also known as the ionosphere, has ions and electrons that reflect the long-length radio waves and drown the faintest signals. This is the reason why Radio telescopes can’t probe the mysterious period on Earth. But, on the far side of the Moon, there’s no atmosphere to reflect the signals, and the natural satellite would block Earth’s radio chatter.

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first published:May 20, 2021, 15:14 IST