Lunar Opportunities for SETI


RFI observed from the MeerKAT telescope site in South Africa. The MeerKAT instrument will perform an unprecedented SETI survey of one million stars as part of the Breakthrough Listen Initiative. The presence of RFI at the telescope will increase the complexity of the data analysis associated with the campaign. A lunar observatory would not be exposed to this interference.

A radio telescope placed in lunar orbit, or on the surface of the Moon's farside, could be of great value to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

The advantage of such a telescope is that it would be shielded by the body of the Moon from terrestrial sources of radio frequency interference (RFI). While RFI can be identified and ignored by other fields of radio astronomy, the possible spectral similarity between human and alien-generated radio emission makes the abundance of artificial radio emission on and around the Earth a significant complicating factor for SETI. A Moon-based telescope would avoid this challenge.

In this paper, we review existing literature on Moon-based radio astronomy, discuss the benefits of lunar SETI, contrast possible surface- and orbit-based telescope designs, and argue that such initiatives are scientifically feasible, both technically and financially, within the next decade.

Eric J. Michaud, Andrew P. V. Siemion, Jamie Drew, S. Pete Worden

Comments: 7 pages, submitted as a white paper for the National Academy of Sciences Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2009.12689 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2009.12689v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Eric J. Michaud
[v1] Sat, 26 Sep 2020 21:07:00 UTC (12,013 KB)
https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.12689

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