Space & Astronomy
NASA lunar telescope looks like the Death Star
By T.K. Randall
April 12, 2020 · 6 comments
The project is nothing if not ambitious. Image Credit: NASA / Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay
A new plan to build a telescope on the Moon will make our lunar neighbor look like the Star Wars battle station.
The dark side of the Moon, which permanently faces away from the Earth, has long been earmarked as the perfect place to build an observatory thanks to its unique level of radio silence.
Now it looks as though the construction of such a telescope may actually happen after NASA funded a proposal to build "the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the solar system."
Measuring a whopping 1 kilometer in diameter, the observatory would be situated inside an existing crater which, in addition to being convenient, would make the Moon look a bit like the Death Star.
Named the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), the project has received $125,000 from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program so that it can be developed further.
The idea was originally devised by NASA JPL roboticist Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay.
"[W]e will mostly be focusing on the mechanical design of LCRT, searching for suitable craters on the Moon, and comparing the performance of LCRT against other ideas that have been proposed in the literature," he said.
The concept is certainly ambitious - requiring the use of wall-climbing robots to unfold wire-mesh scaffolding across the crater's rim. If successful however, it could provide unparalleled views.
"LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10-50m wavelength band (i.e., 6-30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans to date," said Bandyopadhyay.
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