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Why NASA is building a gigantic telescope on the far side of the Moon

ollowing the Big Bang, our budding Universe slowly cooled, and the first atoms took shape. Gravity gradually pulled on clumps of hydrogen and helium gas, forming the earliest stars. This era, lasting a few hundred million years prior to the large-scale formation of stars, is called the cosmic dark ages.

The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), an ambitious concept to place a massive radio telescope on the far side of the Moon, would study the Universe during this ancient era in detail for the very first time.

“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. With a sufficiently large radio telescope off Earth, we could track the processes that would lead to the formation of the first stars, maybe even find clues to the nature of dark matter,” explained Joseph Lazio, radio astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the LCRT team.

How low can you go (in frequency)?