An early-stage technology concept recently funded by NASA proposes the construction of a kilometer-wide radio telescope on the far side of the Moon. The concept is one of 23 to receive NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) funding.
NASA announced it would award a combined $7 million in funding to 23 NIAC proposals on April 7. Among the selections was the extraordinarily ambitious Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT).
The LCRT proposal was submitted by Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a Robotics Technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The proposal calls for the use of DuAxel robots to construct a wire mesh kilometer-wide radio telescope in a lunar crater on the far side of the Moon. With the selection of a crater with a suitable depth-to-diameter ratio, the system would form a spherical cap reflector.
In his proposal, Bandyopadhyay outlined the benefits of a radio telescope located on the far side of the moon. Such a telescope would have the ability to observe the universe at wavelengths greater than 10m, wavelengths that are reflected by Earth’s ionosphere. Additionally, the Moon would act as a natural shield for the LCRT isolating it from radio interface from Earth-based sources.
In summary, the telescope would be able to observe the universe at previously unexplored wavelengths with little to no interference. The potential for discovery under these conditions is extraordinary.