Placement of Telescope on Lunar South Pole to Eliminate Signal Interference
The world’s first mission to the south pole of the moon was announced by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express, Inc. The two companies from the private, non-government, non-military sector released plans to place a telescope on the lunar south pole that will allow scientists to view the center of the Milky Way galaxy with unprecedented clarity.
Scientists have long proposed putting telescopes on the moon’s far side—which faces permanently away from our planet—because the clarity of the images would theoretically exceed anything produced by instruments currently in use. Often, the images produced by terrestrial or other space-based instruments are affected by Earth’s atmosphere, as well as radio and other electromagnetic noise emanating from modern civilization. Placement on the far side of the moon was deemed unfeasible, however, because of the required expensive satellite relays needed to control a far-side telescope from Earth.
The proposed placement of the new telescope at the Malapert crater on the south pole of the moon will eliminate this problem by providing “a direct line of access to Earth,” Steve Durst, founder and director of ILOA, told Wired. Furthermore, placing the equipment at the pole will help it avoid the more extreme temperatures experienced closer to the equator of the moon, a decision that Durst believes could eventually lead to human settlement nearby.
The companies estimate the mission will cost approximately $100 million, and hope to eventually secure financial assistance for the project. An initial mission to test the ILOA’s software and hardware on the moon is planned for 2015. ILOA reportedly hopes to land its main telescope array on the moon as early as 2016.