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9th of June 2017
Radio observations of the moon?
by Phil Edwards (CASS)
The moon is heated by sunlight, and is a bright radio source with a corresponding thermal radio spectrum. Radio astronomers usually do not use their telescopes to study the moon, though there have been some notable exceptions to this general rule. In 1948, Jack Piddington and Harry Minnett, of CSIR's Division of Radiophysics (until 1949, CSIRO was named the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR), used a 1.12m diameter surplus radar dish to study the moon at 24 GHz (a wavelength of 1.25 cm), and concluded that the surface of the moon was covered with a thick layer of fine dust -- which was verified 20 years later with the Apollo 11 moon-landing. More recently, the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and the Parkes radiotelescope have been pointed towards the moon in a novel attempt to observe brief flashes of radio waves caused by high energy neutrinos interacting with the moon, as part of the Lunaska project. The ATCA was also used in September 2006 as part of a network of telescopes receiving radio signals from the SMART-1 satellite before it was (intentionally!) crashed into the moon's surface. The image above shows three dishes of the ATCA appearing to point towards the moon. The array was in its most compact array configuration at the time (known as the H75 array), with dishes along the east-west rail track and the north-south spur, allowing this unusual view to be captured.

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