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First Light: Astrophysics from the Moon

Author: 
RIchard Miller
Topic: 
Astrophysics
Delivered As: 
Oral
Abstract Text: 

We report evidence of the first astrophysical source detected from the Moon. Our detection of Cygnus X-1 is a validation of a new investigative paradigm in which the lunar environment is intrinsic to the detection approach: the Lunar Occultation Technique (LOT). NASA’s Lunar Prospector mission served as a proxy for a dedicated LOT-based mission. The characteristic signature of temporal modulation, generated by repeated lunar occultations and encoded within acquired gamma-ray data (0.5-9 MeV), is consistent with an unambiguous detection of Cygnus X-1. This “first light” detection is a demonstration of the basic tenets of the LOT methodology, reinforces its feasibility as an alternative astronomical detection paradigm, and is an illustration of the fundamental benefits of the Moon as a platform for science.

SSERVI Identifier: 
NESF2016-090

About SSERVI
Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."