Earlier this month, NASA announced that an MIT physics professor will lead a team of scientists on a new mission. The objective? Build a giant radio telescope on the far side of the moon. You see, long, long ago—before there even was a galaxy far, far away—the universe settled into a cosmic Dark Age. It was a billion year period following the Big Bang and it produced the structure of space as we know it. Astronomers have long hoped to detect the faint, low-frequency radio emissions generated from this time so they could learn more. But thanks to interference from the ionosphere, not to mention tons of radio and TV signals, Earth is a lousy place to hear.
Luckily, the moon rotates so that one side always faces out into space, making it free and clear of noise pollution. The MIT team will use automated vehicles to arrange hundreds of antennas across two square kilometers of the moon’s quiet side. From this perch, they hope to hear the waves produced from the birth of the universe and get in tune with how it all came to be.