Exploring the Cosmos: Revolutionizing Astronomy with Telescopes on the Moon – PRATUSH and Beyond

telescopes on moon
telescopes on moon

TABLE OF CONTENTS

News:

Astronomers are looking forward to opening a new window on the universe by posting high-resolution telescopes on the moon and in orbit around it.
There are numerous proposals to do this from astronomers around the world, including one from India called PRATUSH.

Concept :

• On the earth, optical telescopes (which collect visible light at longer wavelengths) and radio telescopes (which collect radio waves with the shortest wavelengths) have to peer through layers of the planet’s atmosphere.
• While it is becoming increasingly difficult for optical instruments to see through the polluted skies, radio telescopes also contend with radio and TV signals used by radar systems, satellites, aircraft etc.
• Telescopes in orbit around the earth is also disturbed by radio noise from the whole planet along with signals from outer space.
• So astronomers are now seriously considering an idea of placing optical and radio telescopes on the far side of the moon, which always faces away from the earth.

Why on Moon ?

• The pristine, airless desolation of the moon provides optical telescopes crystal-clear seeing conditions throughout the long lunar night, which lasts two weeks at a time.
• Radio telescopes on the lunar far side will also be protected by a 3,475-km-thick wall —a.k.a. the moon (its diameter is 3,476 km) — that blots out radio transmissions from the earth and electrically charged plasma winds blowing from the Sun.

Upcoming Projects

• LuSEE Night, a joint NASA-Berkeley Lab project, scheduled for launch in December 2025, is going to land on the far side of the moon, near the equator of the moon, and almost exactly opposite from the earth. This location is helpful because it best shields radio frequency noise coming from the earth.
• NASA’s Long-Baseline Optical Imaging Interferometer, for instance, is scheduled to be launched in parts before this decade is out. Once assembled on the moon’s far side, it will study magnetic activity on stars and the centres of active galaxies in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths.
• ESA is getting ready to launch a radio telescope to the moon’s far side on board its lunar lander, ‘Argonaut’, by 2030.
• China with a moon-orbiting radio telescope is scheduled for launch in 2026.
• ISRO has plan to do with the radio telescope PRATUSH (Probing ReionizATion of the Universe using Signal from Hydrogen), to study the universe from the moon’s far side.
• PRATUSH is being built by the Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bengaluru with active collaboration from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

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