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 Calls for protected moon sites infographic
Graphic shows scientific sites of interest on the moon.
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SPACE

Moon-based astronomy needs sites to be protected

By Ninian Carter

March 28, 2024 - Astronomers are seeking the urgent protection of certain locations on the moon, which could be crucial for the deployment of scientific instruments such as a “hypertelescope”.

Astronomers are calling for certain sites on the moon to be protected from a future wave of missions involving lunar satellites, rovers and mining equipment.

The prime locations, known as Sites of Extraordinary Scientific Importance (SESI), are rated the best places in the solar system for the placement of instruments designed to peer into the universe.

Researchers have designs for instruments that could be installed on the lunar surface by the end of the decade, including radio telescopes built into craters on the far side of the moon, known as “hypertelescopes”.

The dark side of the moon is the most radio-quiet place in the solar system, thanks to the moon’s 3,475km diameter (70 billion tonnes of rock) that blocks radio interference from Earth.

The UK’s Royal Astronomical Society has published a paper outlining a site survey of the lunar surface which pinpoints eight locations of interest that could be used for large scale instruments.

A hypertelescope would be larger than those on orbiting platforms such as the James Webb Space Telescope, giving astronomers unparalleled clarity when looking back into the cosmic dark ages – a time before stars.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 28/03/2024; STORY: Graphic News
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