LUNAR webinar, 17th May 2011

Heino Falcke, Radboud University Nijmegen

LOFAR — The Low-Frequency Array and the Moon



The exploration of remote places on other planets has now become a major goal in current space flight scenarios. On the other hand, astronomers have always sought the most remote and isolated sites to place their observatories. At low-radio frequencies lunar exploration could now make the last unexplored window to the universe accessible to astronomy. The main advantages of the moon are its large stable platform for extended radio interferometers, the absence of a disturbing ionosphere at MHz radio frequencies, and (very likely) the most radio quiet environment in free space. An ideal preparation for low-frequency astronomy is the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT), centered in the Netherlands and currently commissioned by groups throughout Europe. Scientific areas to be covered range from cosmology to exo-planet searches. Surprisingly, LOFAR can also be used to study cosmic particles at extreme energies in excess of 1021 eV, using the moon as the largest accessible particle detector in the solar system. To push this further we are currently developing the Lunar Radio Explorer (LRX) intended to monitor the radio environment on the LUNAR surface and to detect cosmic ray impacts. The antenna is part of an ESA phase B1 study for a robotic lunar lander. In this talk we will briefly present the current status of LOFAR, LRX and the European lunar lander and present first results of the NuMoon experiment to search for ultra-high energy neutrinos hitting the moon.