4G on the Moon worries astronomers

NASA is currently working on the Artemis program. The goal of it is to bring American astronauts back to the moon. The American space agency is giving itself until 2024 to achieve its goal. In recent months, it has increased partnerships with private companies to develop infrastructures that will enable it to carry out this mission. Recently, it was learned that NASA had made an agreement with Nokia to install a 4G network on the Moon .

As part of this partnership, the Finnish company was awarded funding of $ 14.1 million. It will have to use this sum to “deploy the first LTE / 4G communication system in space. "The establishment of a 4G network on the moon is of paramount importance for NASA. It should indeed make it possible to "take charge of communications on the lunar surface at greater distances." "

4G on the Moon worries astronomers
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However, some scientists do not view this project very favorably. This is particularly the case of Emma Alexander, a researcher from the University of Manchester.

A project that does not bode well for radio astronomy

On October 23, 2020, Emma Alexander published an article on The Conversation website. She expresses her concern at the announcement of the NASA 4G network project. According to her, the deployment of 4G on the Moon would bode ill for radio astronomy.

Indeed, this network will generate what scientists call RFI or Radio frequency interference. This is a nightmare for astronomers, as this interference scrambles the signals perceived by radio telescopes. Over the years, researchers have developed many strategies to try to block RFIs.

Researchers voice their concerns

In her article, Emma Alexander explained that astronomers have been planning for years to set up a radio telescope located near the moon. This position would allow them to filter terrestrial signals and pick up extremely low radio frequencies. Thus, they will be able to answer certain fundamental questions relating in particular to the Big Bang. Unfortunately, with NASA's 4G network, this radio telescope may never see the light of day.

This is not the first time that scientists have expressed their concerns about certain space projects. For example, astronomers said a few months ago that SpaceX's Project Starlink satellites were at risk of causing light pollution in space.

According to them, their presence would also increase the risk of collisions with space debris.