Moon landing tracked with the radio telescope

The Dwingeloo radio telescope had a prime seat during the lunar landing attempt of the Israeli Moonlander “Beresheet”. Cees Bassa and Paul Boven used the new 13 cm horn antenna to listen to the carrier signal of Beresheet at 2280 MHz.

The Beresheet lander was launched on Februari 22, 2019, and made several orbits around Earth before maneuvering into an orbit around the Moon on April 4. The landing in Mare Serenitatis was planned for Thursday April 11, 21:25 CEST (Central European Summer Time).

From the radio telescope the lander signal appeared from behind the Moon on that Thursday, as expected, at 20:55 CEST. The Israeli webstream reported that the lander turned around to prepare itself for landing. Exactly as planned, the radio signal showed a kink due to the Doppler effect, indicating that the rocket enginges had started. The next 8 minutes all went according to plan; the Israeli webstream showed decreasing speed and height of the lander, while the radio signal decreased in frequency. The full landing would last for 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, after those 8 minutes, something went wrong. First, the radio signal disappeared temporarily; the webstream reported that one of the orientation sensors was reset. When the radio transmitter on Beresheet became active again, it was clear from the radio signal that the rocket engine was not working, because the Doppler curve showed an acceleration.

During the next 3 minutes there was still contact with the lander, but the engine could not be restarted. This is clearly visible in the recording from the Dwingeloo radio telescope: the Doppler curve does not change. At 21:23:01 CEST, the signal suddenly disappeared: the moment Beresheet crashed into the Lunar surface.

Despite the failed landing, Israel has showed a great achievement. Hopefully future missions from Israel and other countries have more luck, and hopefully the Dwingeloo radio telescope can tune in again.

Doppler curve of the Beresheet signal, as measured with the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. Times are in UTC (two hours earlier than Central European Summer Time).

Kick-off ‘COGITO in Space’ videos

The kick-off ‘COGITO in Space’ on November 5, 2018, marked the first public performance of the interdisciplinary ‘COGITO in Space’ project in ASTRON and at the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. Speakers at the symposium in ASTRON’s Van de Hulst Auditorium were Frank White (The Overview Effect), Fred Spier (Big History and the Future of Humanity) and Nicole Stott (interview with the retired NASA astronaut). The symposium was moderated by Josephine Bosma. The symposium was continued in the radio telescope by sending brain activity from a visitor into the cosmos. In ASTRON’s Minaert Room Daniela interviewed Frank White and Fred Spier.

The interview, the symposium and the radio telescope-part of the COGITO project were filmed by Sandro Bocci. Special thanks to ASTRON ( and CAMRAS. ‘COGITO in Space’ is a project by media artist and artist in residence at the Dwingeloo Radio telescope Daniela de Paulis (

In the fold menus below, you can choose a video of the COGITO in Space project. Once a fold menu topic is opened you can click on the picture to open the film registration of that topic.

‘COGITO in Space’ Symposium PART 1

‘COGITO in Space’ Symposium PART 1

Speakers: Frank White (The Overview Effect) and Fred Spier (Big History and the Future of Humanity).

‘COGITO in Space’ symposium PART 2

‘COGITO in Space’ symposium PART 2

Speaker: Nicole Stott (interview with the retired NASA astronaut).

‘COGITO in Space’ at the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope

‘COGITO in Space’ at the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope

The ‘COGITO in Space’ project is staged at the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope in The Netherlands. A visitor in the cabin of the radio telescope sends her or his brain activity into the cosmos while viewing an immersive video of an experimental interpretation of the Earth as seen from Space. The visitor is fitted with a sophisticated encephalogram (EEG) system and a virtual reality headset; the preparation is carried by three neuroscientists Guillaume Dumas, Robert Oostenveld and Stephen Whitmarshand and takes approximately fifteen minutes. Once the preparation is completed, in real time the brain activity is converted into sound and transmitted into space by the artist Daniela De Paulis, using the antenna of the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope pointing in standstill. The brain activity is thus transmitted across a large portion of the sky, without a specific target, highlighting the Earth’s rotation and our place in the cosmos while the experience takes place. Before entering the cabin and transmitting their brain waves into space, visitors are guided by a planetary scientist to explore the area surrounding the scientific facilities. The naturalistic visit is based on principles of Big History and aims at inspiring in the visitors a stronger sense of connection with the Earth’s habitat, before symbolically leaving the planet.

‘COGITO in Space’ Daniela de Paulis in conversation with Frank White and Fred Spier in the Minnaert Room

‘COGITO in Space’ Conversation with Frank White and Fred Spier in the Minnaert Room

Daniela De Paulis in conversation with space philosopher Frank White (The Overview Effect) and cultural anthropologist Fred Spier (Big History and the Future of Humanity).

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Kick-off 'COGITO in Space’

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