The radio telescope will be able to explore space without the interference that equipment on Earth suffers.
Within NASA, there is a program that seeks to find investment from different sources for innovative and disruptive ideas. It is an opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs to get involved in technically reliable and advanced projects that could one day change the aerospace sector. And one of the ideas, launched this week, looks particularly interesting.
Robotics technologist Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), proposes installing a one-kilometer-diameter radio telescope inside a crater on the far side of the moon. The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) would be able to measure wavelengths and frequencies that cannot be detected on Earth, working unobstructed by the ionosphere or by various other noises that surround our planet.
“LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10–50m wavelength band (6–30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans to date,” writes Bandyopadhyay in the project outline. The largest radio telescope here on Earth is the Five-hundred metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST).
This telescope would be assembled by rovers on the Moon, which would pull a wire mesh inside a lunar crater that could be up to five kilometers in diameter. A receiver suspended in the center of the crater would complete the system. The best thing is: the entire process can be automated, without human operators, which means a lighter and less expensive payload for the project.
The team behind the concept now has nine months and up to US$125,000 in NASA money to see if they can develop it further – and seek out more investors.