Sunday, September 24, 2023

Scientists reveal plan for giant hypertelescope on the moon

The image that opens this post is Starkiller Base from Star Wars, a military base on the ice planet Ilum in the Unknown Regions that served as a First Order stronghold for 30 years after the Battle of Endor. This hypertelescope, which scientists want to develop on Earth and for the moon, is very similar to the base. Yes, in real life.

Space exploration and observation of the universe have made significant progress with the development of ground- and space-based telescopes. Now, a new article on arXiv (via Science Alert) suggests that the next leap in astronomical observation could come on the moon, with the construction of a giant hypertelescope that seems straight out of science fiction.

The authors of the article propose a simple optical telescope that takes advantage of the lunar terrain. Instead of a large primary mirror, this hypertelescope would use a series of mirrors arranged along the surface of a lunar crater.

A hypertelescope could use a series of mirrors arranged along the surface of a crater as primary mirrors. The telescope’s detector array could then be suspended from a cable, similar to how the Arecibo Observatory’s detectors were suspended above the grid dish.

The key is the size of the mirrors

The image below is conceptual, but the design bears some striking resemblance to the construction of Starkiller Base from Star Wars.

Radio Telescope Concept In A Lunar Crater

Because the mirrors wouldn’t have to be large, they would be much easier to build, and the overall shape of the crater would mean less “earthwork” would be required to get them into place.

A variation on this idea would be to place mirrors on one side of the crater and instruments on the other side. This would allow a very long focal length, so the observation range of such a telescope would be limited.

All of these ideas are still at an early stage and there are serious challenges that would need to be addressed beyond construction. For example, dust would build up on mirrors over time and would need to be removed. Although the Moon has much lower seismic activity than Earth, this could still affect the alignment of mirrors and detectors. But challenges aside, it is clear that a lunar observatory is a matter of time.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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