In a first of its kind, two private companies plan to put a telescope called International Lunar Observatory (ILO) atop a lunar mountain as early as 2016, with an aim to help the humankind understand the astrophysics better.
The plan, which is being spearheaded by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), a non-profit organisation and a start-up called Moon Express, will be the world’s first-ever mission to the moon’s south pole. If all goes well with the plan, it will enable public to access the images from the moon online.
The companies plan on installing a two-metre radio antenna along with a smaller optical telescope on the elevated rim of a crater called Malapert. From this point, both telescopes will get a clear view of our galaxy and won’t be subjected to our atmosphere’s hazy interference. The location will also not pick up any radio or electromagnetic noise created by human civilisation.
Moon Express CEO Dr. Robert Richards said: “The mission will provide a historic landing in an unexplored region of the Moon that may harbor some of the greatest resource deposits in the solar system.”
The project if carried out successfully, International Lunar Observatory (ILO) will be the first private space telescope to operate from the lunar surface where it will be available through internet to researchers, educators and general public.
It is hoped that the images taken by the observatory would be clearer than anything taken on earth or even in space, creating a new model of 'citizen science'.
The mission would cost the companies somewhere around $100 million, where it hopes to get some fund from the national space agencies and astronomical centres.