Why Don’t We Put A Space Telescope On The Moon?
“For almost every conceivable application to astronomy, going to the Moon is a vastly inferior location than simply being above the Earth’s atmosphere. The temperature extremes experienced everywhere on the Moon are an extraordinary challenge over and above any benefit you get from being on the Moon’s surface. Only in radio frequencies do the benefits of being on the lunar far side offer an opportunity for observing that we cannot get from either terrestrial or space-based observing.
Until the cost is either brought down or something we demonstrate we’re willing to pay, though, it is unlikely we’ll ever see a lunar telescope that’s superior to the other options. The Universe is out there, waiting for us to discover its secrets. When we decide a lunar radio array is worth it, we’ll advance tremendously in uncovering our cosmic origins.”
Practically everyone knows that our opportunities to view the Universe and learn about it, astronomically, are limited here on Earth. The atmosphere interferes with our ability to observe what’s out there, as do weather, human-created signals, and many other issues. We could go to space, of course, but many problems persist there as well. Perhaps putting a telescope on the far side of the Moon would hold the answer? As it turns out, the Moon is an even harsher environment, in many ways, than the depths of interplanetary space. There’s only one specific application that we know of, for radio astronomy, that offers a tremendous advantage. When we’re ready to invest and build a lunar array of radio telescopes, though, we’ll learn more about the early Universe than we ever have before.