Why no telescopes on the moon?

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  • #101
mheslep
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As the hundred posts or so in the thread discuss, there are many problems with a lunar scope, but I don't think communication with the dark side is an intractable one.
 
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  • #102
davenn
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As the hundred posts or so in the thread discuss, there are many problems with a lunar scope, but I don't think communication with the dark side is an intractable one.
as Steamking said, it isn't worth the cost or effort ... it can all be done from earth orbit for a tiny fraction of the cost
 
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Or even farside moon orbit if there is a serious need for shielding from Earthside radiation.
Moon-based observatories would have a lot of disadvantages in comparison.
 
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Earth/Moon L2 is still completely shielded from radiation from Earth. It is also easy to relay signals via a satellite at L4/L5 or in various Moon orbits.
 
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I don't think communication with the dark side is an intractable one.
I don't think any of the problems are intractable. This is a question of practicality, not possibility. You plop a Surveyor on the moon, have it wait until night, take a few shots of the sky, and send 'em back when you're in daylight again. But that surely would not be worth the effort.
 
  • #106
mheslep
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Earth/Moon L2 is still completely shielded from radiation from Earth. It is also easy to relay signals via a satellite at L4/L5 or in various Moon orbits.
Right, as I indicated, lunar dark side surface to L2, relay to L4 and relay to earth. I'm guessing this has long been the proposed communication solution for any kind of long term installation on the dark side.
http://www.labspaces.net/pictures/blog/4cd8b1c15732e1289269697_blog.jpg
 
  • #107
What's the point of a moon telescope - spending 50% of the time in sunlight it would miss a lot

and it would be impossible to track anything for longer than a two week period.
 
  • #108
Chronos
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The problem with a lunar telescope is not one of feasibility, it is one of motivation. Does the potential benefit justify the effort? At this point that may be dubious, but, we never learn the benefits of exploration without accepting some level of risk. I like the idea of putting aside political squabbles in exchange for acquiring knowledge that may benefit all of humanity. We did it before by putting a man on the moon. We can do it again by continuing that mission in a cooperative sense. I believe most earthlings would overwhelmingly favor that option over enhancing our ability to destroy life on earth
 
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The problem with a lunar telescope is not one of feasibility, it is one of motivation. Does the potential benefit justify the effort? At this point that may be dubious, but, we never learn the benefits of exploration without accepting some level of risk. I like the idea of putting aside political squabbles in exchange for acquiring knowledge that may benefit all of humanity. We did it before by putting a man on the moon. We can do it again by continuing that mission in a cooperative sense. I believe most earthlings would overwhelmingly favor that option over enhancing our ability to destroy life on earth
Ok so if I gave you the choice of a telescope in orbit on a remote controlled satellite.

Or the same telescope, but planted on the dusty surface of the moon....you would prefer the moon telescope? - because it's more prestigious right?

That's ridiculous.

For example what if I gave you choice between a telescope in orbit at a distance of 400,000km, and the same telescope on the moon. Why is the moon one better?
 
  • #110
Chronos
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The dusty surface of the moon which has no wind to waft the dust around? It's not about prestige, its about mastering the technological challenges needed to pull off the job. Your argument makes about as much sense as - why risk sailing across the sea when you can just carve a message on a coconut and toss it into the outgoing tide?
 
  • #111
Well if it's about mastering the technological "challenges" and not about gathering useful data, then why bother building a telescope at all, why not build an F1 car on the moon?

I mean just to kind of like show we can do it. It will be hard and expensive. Lives may be lost. But at the end we'll say look "we built an F1 car on the moon. How cool is that?"

And people will say "yeah, but what's the point". And we say, "oh just to show that we can master technological challenges at any expense for no apparent reason."

"Oh, and by the way we spent like 200 billion US$ on the project so there's no funding left for anything else now."

"Here have a look at some photos of an F1 car "on the moon. It looks just like an F1 car on Earth except it's way more expensive and impractical way of getting exactly the same data"

And then someone says, well can we get some pictures of the car with the Orion constellation in the background?

"No, that's not possible....."
 
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  • #112
The dusty surface of the moon which has no wind to waft the dust around? It's not about prestige, its about mastering the technological challenges needed to pull off the job. Your argument makes about as much sense as - why risk sailing across the sea when you can just carve a message on a coconut and toss it into the outgoing tide?
If you're goal is to deliver a written message across the ocean why sail there in a raft if you could just send an email?
 
  • #113
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A paper just appeared on Arxiv; http://arxiv.org/abs/1510.01435,18-Months [Broken] Operation of Lunar-based Ultraviolet Telescope: A Highly Stable Photometric Performance, summarizing the first 18 months of operation of a lunar robotic telescope called the Chang'e 3, deployed by the Chinese National Space Agency in late 2013. Evidently the Chinese space program flies pretty low on western media, given this is the first I've heard of it. So the question 'why no telescope on the moon?' is more accurately framed as 'why no NASA or EU sponsored telescopes on the moon?'. The advantages of a lunar based telescope are discussed here; http://phys.scichina.com:8083/sciGe/fileup/PDF/11yg0558.pdf, echoing many of the sentiments noted in this thread. Obviously, China found sufficient merit [and funding] for such a project.
 
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  • #114
A paper just appeared......The advantages of a lunar based telescope are discussed here; http://phys.scichina.com:8083/sciGe/fileup/PDF/11yg0558.pdf, echoing many of the sentiments noted in this thread. Obviously, China found sufficient merit [and funding] for such a project.
A satellite in a circular orbit 400,000km from Earth is:
  • just as "stable" as the moon
  • equally free of any atmosphere / ionosphere
  • better at being aimed at a single star for years
  • also capable of detecting UV
So...what are the advantages of a lunar scope as compared to a satellite scope?

And, also, if the lunar scope already exists what's the point of this thread? and why no interest in the data?
 
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  • #115
mheslep
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So...what are the advantages of a lunar scope as compared to a satellite scope?
As mentioned in the paper:
3) The temperature in the permanent shadow regions (PSRs) at both poles of the Moon could be as low as 30 K [3]. PSRs are therefore rare ideal conditions for infrared observations.
With respect to stability, what's the typical pointing stability of a space based instrument as compared one on a body? The paper references 10 day observations.
 
  • #116
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just as "stable" as the moon
Not sure about that. For Gaia, a huge amount of work is necessary to determine its orientation in space (while rotating slowly) with the required precision. On the moon this is easier, unless moon quakes are significant.
 

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