White Papers Submitted by LUNAR

Astro 2010 Decadal Review White Papers

  • Probing the Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn
    The New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey identifies "Cosmic Dawn" as one of the three science objectives for this decade.  The Epoch of Reionization is a science frontier discovery area, and "What were the first objects to light up the Universe and when did they do it?" is a science frontier question in the Origins theme.  NASA Astrophysics should aim to track the evolution of the Universe through as much of the Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn as possible.
  • Technology Challenges for 21-cm Cosmology
    The Astrophysics Decadal Survey identified Cosmic Dawn as one of three priority science objectives.  Specifically, the Survey stated "A great mystery now confronts us: When and how did the first galaxies form out of cold clumps of hydrogen gas and start to shine--when was our cosmic dawn?...Astronomers must now search the sky for these infant galaxies and find out how they behaved and interacted with their surroundings."  The redshifted hyperfine 21-cm line of HI is the most powerful tool to probe the intergalactic medium from the Reionization epoch at z~10 (130 MHz) to the Dark Ages before the first stars at z>50 (<28 MHz).  Human-made RFI and ionispheric absorption/refraction at v<100 MHz have been shown to be magnitudes higher than the expected 21-cm signal, thus driving us to the Moon's farside to conduct these sensitive observations.  The DARE (Dark Ages Radio Explorer) mission concept envisions the first observations of Cosmic Dawn using a novel biconical dipole antenna in orbit of the Moon, observing the global 21-cm signal when above the radio-quiet farside at v=30-120 MHz.
  • Opportunities for Probing Fundamental Gravity with Solar System Experiments
    The recent discovery of "dark energy" has challenged Einstein's general theory of relativity as a complete model for our macroscopic universe. From a theoretical view, the challenge is even stronger: general relativity clearly does not extend to the very small, where quantum mechanics holds sway. Fundamental physics models thus require some major revisions. We must explore deeper to both constrain and inspire this needed new physics. In the realm of the solar-system, we can effectively probe for small deviations from the predictions of general relativity: Technology now offers a wide range of opportunities to pursue experiments with accuracies orders of magnitude better than yet achieved. We describe both the relevant theoretical backgrounds and the opportunities for far more accurate solar system experiments.
  • Astro2010: Solar and Heliospheric Physics with Low Frequency Radio Arrays
    This white paper presents outstanding fundamental questions about our Sun and its surrounding heliosphere that can be answered through the use of low frequency radio arrays (LFAs). The purpose of this white paper is to present these key questions, to motivate their urgency from the perspectives of fundamental plasma astrophysics and space weather effects on our climate and safety, and to make the case for a strong solar and heliospheric science component with current and future LFAs. LFAs are sensitive to both direct radio emission from coherent plasma processes in the solar corona and to the modification of radiation from background sources by the coronal and heliospheric plasma through Faraday Rotation (FR) and Interplanetary Scintillation (IPS). The greatly improved dynamic range, frequency coverage, and bandwidth of modern LFAs will open a new window on the physics of magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration at shocks. The combination of FR and IPS measurements of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) propagating from the corona through interplanetary space has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of how CMEs evolve and to predict the severity of their impact at Earth.

  • The Lunar Radio Array (LRA)
    The Lunar Radio Array (LRA) is a concept for a telescope sited on the far side of the Moon with a prime mission of making precision cosmological measurements via observations of the highly-redshifted H I 21-cm line. Technology development in the 2010–2020 decade is required for a successful start to the LRA in the 2020–2030 decade. Many of these technologies have applicability to other NASA missions, space missions conducted by other Government agencies, or potentially commercial interests.

  • Technology Development for The Lunar Radio Array
    This document summarizes the technology development required in the 2010– 2020 decade, for a successful start to the Lunar Radio Array (LRA) in the 2020–2030 decade. Many of these technologies have broad applicability to NASA astrophysics missions, to NASA missions in other disciplines, space missions conducted by other Government agencies, and potentially commercial interests.

  • Astrophysics from the Highly-Redshifted 21 cm Line
    Over the past several decades, astrophysicists have pushed the "high-redshift frontier," where the most distant known galaxies and quasars reside, farther and farther back – now encompassing star-forming galaxies at z ~ 7 [4] and billion-solar mass black holes shining as quasars at z ~ 6.5 [11]. Two strategies can extend these efforts even farther over the next decade. The first, direct observations with large ground- and space-based near-infrared telescopes, will teach us about processes internal to these objects. But a second method promises a beautiful complement to these direct probes: low-frequency radio arrays using the 21 cm hyperfine line of neutral hydrogen to explore this era through the galaxies' indirect effects on the intergalactic medium (IGM). Here we will describe the key astrophysical questions that this unique tool can address: What were the properties of high−z galaxies? How did they affect the Universe around them?

  • Cosmology from the Highly-Redshifted 21 cm Line
    Measurements of our Universe's fundamental parameters have improved enormously over the past twenty years, thanks to probes as diverse as galaxy surveys [24], supernovae [16], and the cosmic microwave background (CMB) [7]. But answering the many questions opened by these studies requires new cosmological tools. Here we describe the enormous potential of the 21 cm transition of neutral hydrogen, with which we can map the otherwise inaccessible cosmic "dark ages" (at 6 < z < 50, during and before the "reionization" of intergalactic hydrogen). This era includes nearly 60% of the (in principle) observable volume of the Universe and contains an astonishing ~ 3×1016 independent measurements [18] – a billion times more than in the CMB – thanks to small-scale structure over such a large volume. The potential for improved measurements of the fundamental cosmological parameters is impressive, with the eventual possibility of, e.g., tightening constraints on our Universe's curvature by two orders of magnitude. Over the next decade, we will take the first steps toward unlocking this potential and answer two key questions: Does the standard cosmological model describe the Universe during the "dark ages?" How does the IGM evolve during this important time, ending with the reionization of hydrogen?


Planetary Sciences Decadal Review White Papers

  • Science from the Moon: The NASA/NLSI Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR)
    The Moon is a unique platform for fundamental astrophysical measurements of gravitation, the Sun, and the Universe. Lacking a permanent ionosphere and, on the farside, shielded from terrestrial radio emissions, a radio telescope on the Moon will be an unparalleled heliospheric and astrophysical observatory. Crucial stages in particle acceleration near the Sun can be imaged and tracked. The evolution of the Universe before and during the formation of the first stars will be traced, yielding high precision cosmological constraints. Lunar Laser Ranging of the Earth-Moon distance provides extremely high precision constraints on General Relativity and alternative models of gravity, and also reveals details about the interior structure of the Moon. With the aim of providing additional perspective on the Moon as a scientific platform, this white paper describes key research projects in these areas of astrophysics from the Moon that are being undertaken by the NLSI-funded LUNAR consortium.

  • The Moon as a Test Body for General Relativity
    Gravity is the force that holds the universe together, yet a theory that unifies it with other areas of physics still eludes us. Testing the very foundation of gravitational theories, like Einstein's theory of general relativity, is critical in understanding the nature of gravity and how it relates to the rest of the physical world.

  • Lunar Science and Lunar Laser Ranging
    Lunar Laser Ranging studies the Moon’s internal structure and properties by tracking the variations in the orientation and tidal distortion of the Moon as a function of time. Future missions to the Moon’s surface should include new laser ranging instrumentation capable of improved range accuracy.

Exploration Science White Papers