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The Moon radiates energy at infrared and microwave wavelengths, in addition to reflecting sunlight at optical wavelengths. As a result, an antenna pointed at or near the Moon will result in an increase in system operating noise temperature, which needs to be accounted for in RF telecommunications, radio science or radiometric link calculations. The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) may use its large-diameter antennas in future lunar robotic or human missions, and thus it is important to understand the nature of this temperature increase as a function of observing frequency, lunar phase, and angular position of the antenna beam on the lunar disk. This paper reports on a comprehensive lunar noise temperature measurement campaign and associated theoretical treatment for a 34-m diameter Deep Space Network antenna observing an extended source such as the Moon. A set of measurements over a wide range of lunar phase angles was acquired at DSS-13, a 34-m diameter beam waveguide antenna (BWG) located at Goldstone, California at 2.3 GHz (S-band), 8.4 GHz (X-band) and 32 GHz (Ka-band). For validation purposes, independent predictions of noise temperature increase were derived using a physical optics characterization of the 34-m diameter antenna gain patterns and Apollo model-based brightness temperature maps of the Moon as input. The model-based predictions of noise temperature increase were compared with the measurements at all three frequencies. In addition, a methodology is presented that relates noise temperature increase due to the Moon to disk-centered or disk-averaged brightness temperature of the Moon at the microwave frequencies of interest. Comparisons were made between the measurements and models in the domain of lunar disk-centered and disk-averaged brightness temperatures. It is anticipated that the measurements and associated theoretical development will be useful in developing telecommunications strategies for future high-rate Ka-band communications where large diam- eter DSN antennas will be required.
Date of Publication: March 2008