NASA is providing additional funding to a number of projects like the Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program where out-of-box ideas are entertained. Many proposals like instant landing pads for the Artemis mission on the moon, exploring Europa’s subsurface ocean, or using antimatter to slow down interstellar spacecraft en route to exoplanet Proxima Centauri b are mentioned as a means to get funding for the projects.
While there are amazing, high-concept projects ideas, an intriguing one has been presented by roboticist Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay who wants to build a telescope on the far side of the Moon, inside a natural crater of the moon. He named it the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT). NASA has provided funding for it so that it can reach Phase 1. If the proposal remains convincing, it can advance to the 2nd Phase. The third phase is the final one.
According to Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, “The objective of NIAC Phase 1 is to study the feasibility of the LCRT concept. During Phase 1, we will mostly be focusing on the mechanical design of LCRT, searching for suitable craters on the Moon, and comparing the performance of LCRT against other ideas that have been proposed in the literature.”
The LCRT would be an ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope that might look like a Deathstar and it can capture very weak signals traveling through space. Earth-based stations can’t observe wavelengths which go greater than 10 meters or with frequencies that are below 30MHz. These signals get reflected by the ionosphere of the Earth. Plus, satellites orbiting the Earth pick up these signals and so, reading them can be a difficulty.
This lunar telescope can be a great way to intercept wavelengths without interruption from the ionosphere. It can be another giant leap for mankind.