NASA has decided to continue work on the largest radio telescope in the solar system in a Lunar crater on the far side of the moon. It is expected that small rovers will be engaged in its creation, and the telescope itself will investigate the processes that took place in the early Universe.
The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope
The LCRT (Lunar Crater Radio Telescope) project was proposed in 2020 as part of the NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) program. The purpose of this program is to support ideas and projects in the field of astrophysics, astronautics, rocket and satellite engineering, which can be implemented over the next few decades and will have a great impact on the course of scientific and technological progress.
It provides for the creation of a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon, where its operation would not be affected by noise and interference from the Earth and the Sun. It is assumed that the diameter of the antenna will be one kilometer.
It will include a wire mesh, over which the feed will be fixed on cables, and the robotic rovers DuAxel will be engaged in its placement in the crater. The working wavelength range of LCRT will be from ten to fifty meters and it will observe objects from the early Universe.
On April 8, 2021, NASA announced that the radio telescope project has successfully completed the first phase of work, which took 9 months, and won the right to proceed to the second phase. This part of the project has been scheduled to be completed in two years.
As part of the second phase, the project team received $500,000 to develop a work plan for the creation of a radio telescope, while they are not yet required to fully develop the technologies required for the project.
If the project manages to move into the third phase, then both NASA itself and various enterprises will be involved in the work to develop technologies. If the project is eventually completed within the next decades, the LCRT will become the largest filled aperture radio telescope in the solar system.
The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope will have an incredible objective – to study the evolution of the universe, from the formation of the first stars to the current state of the cosmos. This will become possible due to the specific location of the lunar telescope.
The team has selected several craters that will protect the instrument from interfering noises from the galactic center. This will allow the telescope to obtain clearer data about the Dark Ages of the universe, namely the earliest periods.
Overall, project development is only just beginning. There is no guarantee that it will ever become a reality or if it does, whether it will happen before the next decade or in 30 years, for example. After all, operations on the far side of the moon are a much more difficult task.
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• Carter, J. (2021, April 10). NASA teases a Mars base made of mushrooms, a swarm of spacecraft to Venus and a giant dish on the moon.
• Hall, L. (2021, April 07). Lunar crater radio telescope (LCRT) on the Far-Side of the moon.
• JPL NASA. (n.d.). NASA selects innovative, early-stage tech concepts for continued study.
• O’Neill, M. (2021, April 12). A radio telescope built in a crater on the Moon – and other Innovative NASA tech concepts being researched.