A Plan to Build a Giant Liquid Telescope on the Moon

This sounds so cool!

Using a rotating dish of reflective liquid as its primary mirror, Angel’s telescope would the largest ever built, and would permit astronomers to study the oldest and most distant objects in the universe, including the very first stars.

Angel a leading astronomer at the University of Arizona, dreams of a 100-meter mirror, which would be larger than two side-by-side football fields and would collect 1,736 times more light than the Hubble.

Even a 20-meter instrument, which is more likely in the near term, would be 70 times more sensitive than the Hubble and could detect objects 100 times fainter than those that will be seen with the James Webb Space Telescope, a next-generation orbiting observatory scheduled for launch in 2013.

Although the final cost of the project is yet to be determined, a 20-meter lunar LMT ought to be a bargain in comparison to the James Webb Space Telescope, which is expected to carry a $4.5 billion price tag. It would also make the JWST look like a child’s spyglass.

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.



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