Sunday, March 04, 2007

Vol 3. Asteroidal - Robotic Observatory

--Unique vantage points.

--Earth views from different perspectives

---add Terran and Lunar observations via pointers and parallax.Recall observatories on dark side of Moon would have ideal viewing conditions.

--Unique vantage points.

--Earth views from different perspectives

---assist Terran and Lunar observations via pointers and parallax measurements.


Sidebar: Recall observatories on dark side of Moon would have ideal viewing conditions.

(Note extract from "Entering Space, Creating a Spacefaring Civilization", wonderful book by Robert Zubrin. Slight changes to reflect my readability, no intent to change content. Content belongs to Mr. Zubrin, misteakes belong to me. Jim O)

Moon's dark side would be a superb vantage point for astronomical observatories. It has no obscuring atmosphere, and it rotates only once every 28 days; thus, a scope could collect 28 times more light from a distant object as possible on Terra (400 times that of Low Earth Orbit, LEO, satellites such as the famous Hubble space borne telescope). Moon is seismically inactive and provides a rock steady platform for mounting telescopes. This steadiness anables optical arrays of scopes to focus on a single object and coordinate signals via computer (interferometry). For extreme resolution, distances between component scopes must be accurate within a micrometer (impossible in the seismic active Terra, even less possible on a LEO satellite). Recall the telescopic resolution is proportional to its diameter; thus, an array of scopes has theoretical resolution many times that of a single scope (only one component of the overall array). The dark side of the moon gives a potential diameter of 1,700 kms (many thousand times better than Hubble satellite which has yielded many breath taking images with incredible resolution.)

While impressive, the above capabilities are really the tip of the iceberg. In additon to optical, airless lunar surface would also enable accessible observations in other spectrums: cosmic-ray, gamma-ray, x-ray, and ultraviolet. Luan's permanently shadowed craters provide permanent low temperatures to enable continual infrared observations. Being shielded from Earth’s multitude of Radio Frequency (RF) transmissions, dark side of Moon enables radio telescope observations. Lack of ionosphere further enhances this RF capability.

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