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At long last, a radio telescope on the moon’s far side

19 May 2021, 12:00 UTC
At long last, a radio telescope on the moon’s far side
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The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope has a proposed 1-km diameter (.6 mile), much larger in the moon’s low gravity than any earthly radio telescope. If completed, this telescope will be the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in our solar system. Image via Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay/ NASA.
In late 2020, the beloved Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed and was decommissioned. It was a dish-type radio telescope, built into a natural depression in the landscape. Now, as the astronomy community mourns Arecibo’s loss, a team of scientists has just cleared another hurdle to building a much-larger radio telescope. In April 2021, NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts awarded the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope project $500,000 for further research and development. This telescope, too, is to be built into a natural depression in the landscape, in this case a bowl-shaped crater on the far side of the moon.
Where and how would a telescope be built in such a remote and inaccessible place? After all, so far, only one spacecraft has successfully soft-landed on the moon’s far side, and that is China’s Chang’e 4, which achieved humanity’s first soft landing on the far side on January 3, 2019. To scientists, Chang’e 4’s success only shows ...

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