NASA revealed that it will support a project that's looking to transform a crater on the Moon into a scientific radio telescope. According to the details of the project, a lunar telescope will be able to explore space using frequencies and wavelengths that are undetectable from Earth.

The project is known as the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT). It is one of the innovative space projects picked by NASA to receive funding from the agency.

LCRT
Notional view of LCRT on the far-side of the Moon. NASA/Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay

Building A Telescope On The Moon

According to NASA, the project involves selecting a crater on the Moon that's about three to five kilometers wide. Then, robotic rovers, which are capable of scaling the walls of the crater, will be used to deploy a wire mesh with a diameter of one kilometer across the center of the crater.

A suspended receiver will then be installed over the crater to complete the radio telescope's system. As noted by the agency, the operations of the entire system can be automated, which means it will not require human operators.

Being an automated system also lessens the costs of building and operating the LCRT. Although NASA has not yet selected a specific crater for the project, the agency is looking to establish the LCRT somewhere in the far side of the Moon.

Moon Technologies
Illustration of power, lighting and roving concepts operating in a lunar crater. NASA

Advantages Of A Lunar Telescope

Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a robotics technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained that establishing a massive radio telescope at the far side of the Moon will allow scientists to observe the galaxy and the entire universe at wavelengths not detected from Earth. According to the scientist, the LCRT will be able to use better wavelengths because the entire Moon will act as a shield. It will be able to prevent Earth-based radio interferences and other noises from interfering with the telescope.

This will allow NASA to observe and detect new cosmic bodies in the universe. "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," Bandyopadhyay said in a statement.