Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

NIAC Award: Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Far-Side of the Moon

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 16, 2020
Filed under , , , , , , , ,
Notional view of LCRT on the far-side of the Moon. (Credits: Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the Far-Side of the Moon

Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

An ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope on the far-side of the Moon has tremendous advantages compared to Earth-based and Earth-orbiting telescopes, including

(i) Such a telescope can observe the universe at wavelengths greater than 10m (i.e., frequencies below 30MHz), which are reflected by the Earth’s ionosphere and are hitherto largely unexplored by humans, and

(ii) the Moon acts as a physical shield that isolates the lunar-surface telescope from radio interferences/noises from Earth-based sources, ionosphere, Earth-orbiting satellites, and Sun’s radio-noise during the lunar night.

We propose to deploy a 1km-diameter wire-mesh using wallclimbing DuAxel robots in a 3-5km-diameter lunar crater on the far-side, with suitable depth-to-diameter ratio, to form a sphericalcap reflector.

Concept of operations for building LCRT. (Credits: Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

This Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), with 1km diameter, will be the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the Solar System! LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10– 50m wavelength band (i.e., 6–30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans till-date.

2 responses to “NIAC Award: Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Far-Side of the Moon”

  1. AndrewZ says:

    The benefits of building an instrument like this are obvious. But there are two major challenges. The first is to identify a crater with a suitable shape. The second is to develop a rover that can traverse that crater and avoid all the obstacles that might be found within it. The problem in both cases is that the available photography from lunar orbit may not show the exact structure of any potentially viable site to a sufficiently high resolution. It would be interesting to hear more about how the proponents of this project intend to address these issues.

Leave a Reply