Sunday 10 June 2007
Liquid Mirror Telescope on the Moon
In the future the moon will not only have cheese on its surface, but also the largest telescope in the world. NASA and Roger Angel from the University of Arizona plan to build a liquid mirror telescope that could be hundreds of times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope. The project doesn't eschew grandeur, with a 100-meter mirror, which would be the size of a football field and would collect 1,736 times more light than the Hubble.
Liquid mirror telescopes have the advantage of being less expensive than solid (aluminum based mirror)telescopes. In addition a lunar telescope would be free from the atmospheric distortion that afflicts terrestrial telescopes of all kinds, and from the self-generated winds that produce troublesome waves in the largest earth-based LMTs. The light from the universe's most distant stars is intensely red-shifted, and the airless lunar deep-freeze would be ideal for infrared observation – as would a liquid mirror: While they perform as well as conventional mirrors at visible wavelengths, liquid mirrors do even better in the infrared.
The project awaits funding and the activation of space-economy, but according to qualified sources it seems feasible and would be on its way by 2013.