Published: March 6, 2020

Authors: Neil Bassett, David Rapetti, Jack O. Burns, Keith Tauscher, Robert MacDowall

Abstract: Low radio frequency experiments performed on Earth are contaminated by both ionospheric effects and radio frequency interference (RFI) from Earth-based sources. The lunar farside provides a unique environment above the ionosphere where RFI is heavily attenuated by the presence of the Moon. We present electrodynamics simulations of the propagation of radio waves around and through the Moon in order to characterize the level of attenuation on the farside. The simulations are performed for a range of frequencies up to 100 kHz, assuming a spherical lunar shape with an average, constant density. Additionally, we investigate the role of the topography and density profile of the Moon in the propagation of radio waves and find only small effects on the intensity of RFI. Due to the computational demands of performing simulations at higher frequencies, we propose a model for extrapolating the width of the quiet region above 100 kHz that also takes into account height above the lunar surface as well as the intensity threshold chosen to define the quiet region. This model, which we make publicly available through a Python package, allows the size of the radio quiet region to be easily calculated both in orbit or on the surface, making it directly applicable for lunar satellites as well as surface missions. Read more via arXiv.