Or actually, a broadband linear transponder.
Yes, I know – money. But humor me for a minute:
In just the past few years, EME has moved from being a highly-specialized mode practiced by very few to a DXpedition mode for some and is now even backyard do-able by many. This is primarily due to JT65.
Two such stations won’t work each other but JT65 and CW make QSOs now possible for a 100-watt station with a single Yagi antenna. This, despite the fact that the lunar surface only reflects 7% of the RF hitting it.
We have amateur satellites carrying linear transponders, making many QSOs possible at once. But their footprint is small and their time overhead is brief.
The moon’s time overhead lasts for hours and it can see almost half the Earth at once. No rush, no fuss and no Keplerian elements needed since the moon is so visible (and not just at night).
And since the transponder is an active device, far less power and/or much simpler antennas would be required to work another station via the moon.
Imagine the experimentation that could take place in classrooms – students could:
- Use a transmitter, receiver and oscilloscope to measure the distance to the moon by precisely timing the returning signal
- Compute path loss delta for the moon at (or near) the horizon vs. during transit
- Compare Doppler at apogee, perigee and in between
- Measure precession over time
These experiments could be predicted mathematically and then proven operationally.
The point of a transponder on the moon wouldn’t have to necessarily be about making QSOs and working DXCC (the “band” would be open daily!) – it could be about making the moon radiate RF at your command and inspiring young minds with the resultant science then possible. The ultimate in remote sensing.
Would the cost be worth of the lifespan of the (solar powered) transponder?
Would it really inspire students or are kids too jaded these days to be impressed enough to become inspired?
China and a few other countries periodically make sounds about sending probes to the moon – if so, the project could be piggy-backed…therefore…
…in addition to AMSAT and all the other organizations under their umbrella, might governments contribute to the cost, given the future engineers and scientists it might generate or is governments’ main purpose these days simply to fuel themselves into bigger and bigger entities rather than advance their respective societies?