NASA wants to turn a Moon crater into a giant radio telescope

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 11, 2020, 9:45am CDT
NASA wants to turn a Moon crater into a giant radio telescope

Last week, NASA published a new scientific proposal that suggests a large lunar crater should be turned into a big radio telescope. There would be multiple benefits to having a radio telescope on the Moon, according to NASA, which says that orbiting and Earth-based telescopes are subjected to interference and more. The crater telescope, if it ever proceeds to the point of being an actual project, would involve builder robots.

NASA has issued grants for a variety of space proposals, one of which is the idea of turning a 1.8- to 3.1-mile lunar crater into an ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope that would itself be a bit more than half a mile wide. The telescope would be located on the far side of the Moon, offering what the space agency says would be ‘tremendous advantages.’

This telescope would be called the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) and it could be constructed out of a wire mesh that is put in place using wall-climbing DuAxel robots. The mesh would be used to create a spherical-cap reflector, potentially becoming the biggest filled-aperture radio telescope in the entire Solar System.

Having a radio telescope on this part of the Moon would offer scientists multiple benefits, according to NASA; it would be able to make observations at frequencies below 30MHz, which the space agency says have mostly been unexplored by humans because of the limitations of Earth-based and orbiting telescopes.

As well, a telescope in this location would have the benefit of the Moon acting as a physical shield to help protect against unwanted noise and interference from the ionosphere, satellites, and more. Overall, NASA anticipates that a telescope like this could offer ‘tremendous scientific discoveries’ — assuming, of course, that such a telescope is ever built.

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