AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 15 Astronomical Instruments
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-6:30pm, Tuesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom A

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[15.12] Moon-based Epoch of Reionization Imaging Telescope (MERIT)

D. L. Jones (JPL/Caltech), R. J. MacDowall (GSFC), S. D. Bale (UCB), L. Demaio (GSFC), J. C. Kasper (MIT), K. W. Weiler (NRL)

Radio observations of emission and absorption from neutral Hydrogen during the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) can reveal how structure leading to the first stars, galaxies, and black holes formed in the intergalactic medium between redshifts of about 6 and at least 20. Ground-based low frequency radio arrays are under construction (LOFAR, PAST) or development (LWA, MWA) to detect and eventually image the EoR signal. The Moon-based Epoch of Reionization Imaging Telescope (MERIT) is a mission concept that is intended to extend ground-based observations of the EoR to the highest possible dynamic range and image fidelity. This can be accomplished by locating the MERIT array on the far side of the moon. The array is composed of 10-12 radial arms, each 1-2 km in length. Each arm has several hundred dipole antennas and feedlines printed on a very thin sheet of kapton with a total mass of about 300 kg. This provides a convenient way to deploy thousands of individual antennas, and a centrally condensed distribution of array baselines. The lunar farside provides shielding from terrestrial natural and technological radio interference, shielding (half the time) from strong solar radio emissions, and freedom from the corrupting influence of Earth’s ionosphere. Various options for array deployment and data transmission to Earth will be described is this paper. Part of this work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.