A research team is putting together a proposal to potentially use a remote-controlled rover to construct and plant a radio telescope on the far side of the moon.
Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, led by Jack Burns of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR), is working to develop a plan for a small rover to spool out “Kapton film” on the lunar service. As Space notes, the material would serve as a “robust, lightweight backbone” for a low-frequency antenna array. The plan is to make it something simple enough a rover could potentially deploy on its own.
If they can figure out a way to make it work, this potential telescope would be unencumbered by all the radio-frequency interference that gets in the way here on Earth. From the far side of the moon, the telescope would be able to pick up new star formations, black holes and all kinds of cool stuff. It’s a fascinating idea, and they’re trying to reboot the way we control rovers to make it possible.
The team wants to “change the paradigm” for rovers, by implementing a telerobotic simulation system designed to reduce control delays and improve communication between orbiting astronauts and surface-based rovers. If response time is improved, it’ll make it a whole lot easier to quickly respond to potential problems via the rover.
This is awesome, to be sure. But, if we can just get us a moon base established, we’d have some human hands nearby to lend a hand.