The Lunar Radio Observatory


The far side of the Moon is an excellent location for radio telescopes as it is shielded from the intense radio transmissions on Earth and the presence of a fair number of large craters. In particular the Daedalus crater (with diameter of 93 kilometers) near the center of the far side, was found very suitable for the largest radio telescope in our Solar system. Hence it was no surprise that in the late 2020s Europe, Russia, Japan and India joined forces and worked together to create the Lunar Radio Observatory.

For economic reasons it was decided to use as much Lunar resources as possible in the construction of the observatory. All required resources could be found on the Far Side but a couple of dozen of astronauts had to spend about a decade to complete the LRO. Several bases were located around the crater as accommodation for the workers.

Of course, it was a no-brainer to use solar energy to power the Lunar Radio Observatory. Nevertheless something had to be done to overcome the fourteen-day Lunar night. One proposal was to employ the so-called “eternal peaks of light” at the Lunar north or south pole – which would have required a power line of a few thousand kilometers. Another idea was to employ some type of energy storage system, in particular in the form of electrolysis of water.

Earlier missions had shown that water ice was present at the shadowed bottoms of polar craters. It seemed a simple task to collect that ice and transport it to the Daedalus crater, but it required the creation of complex infrastructure.

The main topic of debate was the issue of human presence on the Moon. Many believed that with modern communication technology and robotics no physical human presence would be required as the round trip delay was only a few seconds – which was small compared with communication with Mars – and hence real life tele-operation would be possible.

Nevertheless it was decided in the end that at least some humans should be present to monitor the all activities related to the construction of the Lunar Radio Observatory. They would work in shifts and be replaced every six months and this would be the beginning of permanent human presence on the Moon.

12 responses

  1. This should already be history.

    1. I fully agree, it’s very, very pity it isn’t.

      1. We got too cautious, to slow. I like it that the Chinese are putting some fire under the “space race” again. It’s just a pity that we have to be motivated by competition (and fear) and not the simply love of discovery.

      2. You are right. Anyway, such telescope would much more useful than, say, “mars one”.

      3. Yep, and its needed. Superstitions are still far too strong down here to get any good work done. I read this morning that Hawaiian protesters continue to delay the construction of a new telescope on Mauna Kea because, they say, it will desecrate a mountaintop where the Sky Father and Earth Mother gave birth to humankind.

      4. Yeah, and even an “invisible” telescope on the Moon would meet some resistance. It’s sad, given that such a large radio observatory would able to detect weak signals.

      5. But of course, we’d have to pay rent to the aliens based there, and they’re greedy bastards 🙂

      6. No, just steal their lands as we did with the Native Americans and the Aboriginals of Australia.

      7. True. What was I thinking 🙂

    2. John, fear and competitions, opposite sides of the same coin are the real drivers of progress. Without those, I think we would not do a thing

      1. If we add “greed” into the mix, i think you might be right.

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