Space Travel and Exploration
The Moon

Is it better to make astronomical observations from the Moon's surface or from a low earth orbiting observatory?

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2011-09-13 02:33:32

One of the main reasons why there is a push to construct a base

on the moon is because telescopic observations from the moon would

be clearer due to the fact that there would be no interference from

an atmosphere, as is experienced on the Earth.

"Answer" id="Answer">Answer


"Answer" id="Answer">Answer

The heavy mirror in a large telescope becomes distorted in a

gravitational field when fixed on the earth, which would happen

even on the moon with its reduced gravity. This reduces the quality

of the image. Actuators placed under the mirror are used to

minimise this effect in some large modern telescopes (called active

optics, see reference).

However, orbiting the earth in space the telescope mirror

becomes weightless and these effects can be virtually eliminated.

This simplifies the telescope design and the subsequent image

quality should be improved.

An orbiting telescope would also be cheaper to launch and

service than one located on the Moon.

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