Business Insider's NASA patented a faster, cheaper route to the moon. The first spacecraft to use it could make Nobel Prize-winning discoveries about the universe. includes a section titled

2 Nobel Prizes may await in the lunar 'cone of silence'

which says

By slipping behind the moon at a moment when the sun is blocked as well as the Earth, Dapper is expected to make the first clear recordings of neutral hydrogen signal. The spacecraft might also gather evidence of the first stars, and possibly the first black holes and galaxies that formed about 500 million years after the Big Bang, during an epoch called "Cosmic Dawn."


Burns and others came up with the Dark Ages Radio Explorer lunar mission about 10 years ago, which is why that mission and not Dapper is described in the patent, which NASA filed in 2015. (The USPTO is a notoriously slow-moving federal organ.)

Burns said that while NASA was excited about DARE — no one had ever done something like it before — the agency was bound by rules that favored established science and hardware over newer approaches.

"There is no history of low-frequency experiments in space. So, on the one side, people are excited: 'Wow, you're opening up an entire new field of cosmology. This is great. This is fantastic. You need to do it,'" Burns said. "The other side is, 'Well, you've never done it before, so it must be risky.' And so you get marked down for the risks."

After years of being passed up, Burns and his colleagues decided to shrink the car-size spacecraft, ditch novel hardware for proven "heritage" technologies, and try again.

Question: What novel technologies did DARE ditch in order to get NASA support?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that it says novel hardware, which could just mean it's the same technology but they made their own one instead of using NASA's tried-and-tested one. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ "There is no history of low-frequency experiments in space..." Seriously? ISEE-3, Wind, STEREO, Parker Solar Probe, and Solar Orbiter (to name a few) all have radio experiments covering frequencies from a few kHz to ~20 MHz. That DARE website says "low frequency" is 40-120 MHz. The below 20 MHz frequency range was specifically chosen for Wind because that's about the cutoff frequency of the ionosphere... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @honeste_vivere Good points of course, but the quotes are from a longer article which is probably referring to radio astronomy outside the solar system but now it seems to be paywalled so I can't quote it further. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 21:52


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.