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Plans for a Liquid Lunar Telescope

Article written: 21 Jun , 2007
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
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NASA-funded researchers are working on a clever technology that could deploy a gigantic telescope made from rotating liquid… on the Moon! It sounds like science fiction, but they’ve gotten smaller prototypes to work, and the technology should work even better on the lower lunar gravity.

Here’s how it works. Astronauts would deliver the observatory (all folded up) to the Moon during one of their upcoming “return to the Moon” missions. It would unfold into the shape of a telescope mirror made of mesh. The astronauts then pour a reflective liquid onto the mesh. The mesh rotates coating the entire surface in the liquid. Don’t worry about the liquid dripping through the mesh, it actually gets held in place by surface tension.

As telescopes go, this would be a whopper. The current plans call for a 20-metre mirror, but it could theoretically get as big as 100-metres across. This would provide 1000 times the observing power as the James Webb Space Telescope, which still won’t launch for a few more years. That gives it the power to look right back to the very edge of the observable Universe, and see the first generations of stars forming.

Now there’s a reason to send humans back to the Moon.

Original Source: NASA News Release


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