SALSA: A Lunar Submillimeter-Wavelength Array

by M. J. Mahoney, Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, United States,
K. A. Marsh, Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, United States,

Abstract: A conceptual design is described for a lunar submillimeter-wavelength interferometer called SALSA, a Synthesis Array for Lunar Submillimeter Astronomy. The intent is to describe SALSA in sufficient detail that civil engineering approaches to its implementation can be considered by others. SALSA is optimized to synthesize images of astronomical sources at wavelengths between 60 and 300 μm with an angular resolution of 10 milliarcseconds at the shortest wavelength. Observations in this spectral region provide unique insights into fundamental issues in astrophysics such as star formation, but are impossible from the earth's surface because of severe absorption by atmospheric water vapor. The baseline design for SALSA consists of twelve, 3.5-meter diameter antennas arranged in a Y-shaped configuration consisting of three, 0.5-km-long arms, each with four antennas. The astronomical signal is not detected at each antenna; instead, the antenna serves simply as a beam compressor which relays the signal to small antennas at a central receiver station for coherent signal detection and correlation. Such a beam-waveguide approach has significant advantages, since all the high-power-consumption hardware is at a central location and can share a single power source. In addition, the antennas can be quite simple and maintenance is greatly reduced.

Subject Headings: Antennas | Moon | Measuring instruments | Wavelength | Conceptual design | Imaging techniques | Surface waves

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