Lunar Astrophysical Observatory Testimonials

Paul D. Spudis , planetary physicist, member of President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy –

[Excerpt from “Backers say Moon Mission Would Boost NASA,” The Washington Times, by William Glanz, 11 Dec 2003]:

“The Moon has scientific value, utilitarian value and inspirational value.” An observatory on the Moon would advance astronomical research. “The Moon is a great place to do astronomy.”

[Excerpt from “Lunar Science and Resources: Future Options,” witness testimonial to the US House Science Committee 1 Apr 2004]:

 “The Moon is a unique scientific resource on which important research, ranging from planetary science to astronomy and high-energy physics, can be conducted… Because the Moon has no atmosphere and is a quiet, stable body, it is a premier place to observe the universe. Telescopes erected on the lunar surface will possess many advantages over both Earth-based and space-based instruments.”


Paul D. Lowman, Jr. , geophysicist, Apollo scientist, NASA Goddard SFC –

[Statement provided to Space Age Publishing Company, 12 Apr 2004 ]:

 “The main advantage the Moon offers for astronomy, compared to space-based astronomy in general, is that it provides a stable solid surface, one with almost unlimited area. The lunar surface is thus uniquely suited to long baseline interferometry, at optical or infrared [submillimeter] wavelengths. Interferometry provides the equivalent of extremely large apertures, with correspondingly high spatial resolution. Interferometry is rapidly becoming a leading approach for Earth-based instruments; the Keck twin telescopes, for example, are now titled "The Keck Interferometer." Furthermore, the Moon's solid surface permits the use of simple aiming systems not dependent on the use of expendable attitude control gas, which frequently limits the lifetime of space-borne instruments. Finally, the lunar surface environment is now a familiar one, long since demonstrated to be stable, predictable , and survivable for instruments.”

 [Excerpt from “Astronomy from the Moon: A Second Look,” Paul D. Lowman, Mercury, Mar-Apr 2000, pp. 31-33]:

“Observatories on the Moon have been repeatedly endorsed by a number of scientific workshops and repeatedly dismissed because of their presumed high cost. These dismissals are based on the assumption that lunar observatories need astronomers on the Moon. This assumption has, in fact, long since been invalidated by the success of space-based telescopes; recent technological advances invalidate it for Moon-based ones.”


Capt. John W. Young , NASA Astronaut, Apollo 16 Moonwalker, Shuttle Commander –

[ Excerpt from “John Young has had Moondust under his fingernails…” Clarion-Ledger interview by Billy Watkins, Jun 1999]:

“Yes, we’re talking about stuff like Armageddon. And we’re the only people in the country working on a motor that could move an asteroid. The Department of Energy is working on a nuclear thermal engine that could power the motor. The way you do it is, pick up the asteroid way far out. What better place to see this than from the Moon?”



Editors , Lunar Enterprise Daily

[Excerpt from “John Young Infrared Telescope on Moon May Give Focus to USA Return to Moon by 2010,” Lunar Enterprise Daily , 19 Jul 2002 ]:

“John Young, [the first human to operate an astronomical device from the Moon], argues that we can develop technologies that can prevent or mitigate these [Earth-asteroid impacts] inevitable happenings. Specifically, he says we should strengthen Spaceguard to track smaller Earth-crossers using infrared facilities ... Possibly use Dr. P. C. Chen’s Advanced Technology Telescope robotic composite mirror telescopes on the Moon. Developing technologies that will allow humans to live and work on the Moon or Mars will also enable the human species to survive on Earth. Young says, ‘…single planet species don’t last.’”

 [ Lunar Enterprise Daily China news affiliate correspondence concerning China chief lunar scientist, 10 Mar 2004 ]:

“ Ouyang Ziyuan said in a TV interview that China was very interested in setting up a telescope on the Moon for astronomical observation.”



Steve Durst , publisher, editor,Space Age Publishing Company; director, Lunar Enterprise Corporation –

[Excerpt from “International Lunar Observatories (& Power Stations): From Hawai‘i to the Moon,” paper presented at 10 th Intl Space Conf of Pacific-basin Societies, held in Tokyo, Japan, 10-12 Dec 2003]:

“Astronomy’s great advantages from the Moon are well known – diffuse atmosphere stable surface, long cool nights [14 days], low gravity, far side radio frequency silence. A large variety of astronomical instruments and observations are possible – radio, optical and infrared telescopes and interferometers; interferometry for ultra-violet to sub-millimeter wavelengths and for very long baselines, including Earth-Moon VLBI; X-ray, gamma-ray, cosmic ray and neutrino detection; very low frequency radio observation; and more.

 Unparalled advantages of lunar observatories for SETI, as well as for local surveillance, Earth observation, and detection of Earth approaching objects add significant utility to lunar astronomy’s superlatives. At least nine major conferences in the USA since 1984 and many elsewhere, as well as ILEWG, IAF, IAA, LEDA and other organizations’ astronomy-from-the-Moon research indicate a lunar observatory / power station, robotic at first, will be one of the first mission elements for a permanent lunar base. An international lunar observatory will be a transcending enterprise, highly principled, indispensable, soundly and broadly based, and farseeing.”

 [Excerpt from “International Lunar Observatory (& Power Station): A Dish on the Moon,” Steve Durst, abstract submitted for 55 th Intl Astronautical Congress, to be held in Vancouver, Canada, 4-8 Oct 2004]:

“Realized by a commission of national and international space agencies and science foundations, from America, Russia, Europe, China, Japan and India, as well as Canada, Mexico and others; of international and national observatories and astronomy centers and institutes; and of commercial power, communications, and other private enterprises, an ILO Dish of 1-3 meters diameter can be swiftly emplaced, in 2-3 years, for US$50-75 million projected cost. Revolutionary discoveries in sub-millimeter wavelengths [0.25-1.3 mm] of star, planet and galaxy formation, of explosive activities in the center of galaxies, would, by themselves, significantly advance human cosmology.”



Yuki D. Takahashi , PhD candidate in astrophysics, University of California , Berkeley –

 [Excerpt from “Radio Interferometer Observatory Near the Lunar South Pole,” paper presented at International Lunar Conference 2003, held on Hawai‘i Island , Hawaii , 16-22 Nov 2003]:

“Prior to setting up a full-scale observatory on the lunar far side, the most important first step may be to propose a realistic preliminary observatory … Such a project could utilize the same transportation, power, and communications systems required for further exploration of the Moon. A simulation study was conducted to explore the possibility of using the 5-km tall Malapert Mountain near the lunar South Pole as a shield against terrestrial radio interference. The study seem[s] to indicate several orders of magnitude attenuation over a region spanning ~50 km on the far side of Malapert Mountain . In hopes to motivate a serious proposal for the first lunar VLF [very low frequency <30 MHz] observatory, a preliminary concept for … this shadowed region is considered.

To realize the dream of studying the universe from the Moon, it is time for an international team to begin seriously proposing these missions.”

 [Excerpt from “A Concept For A Simple Radio Observatory at the Lunar South Pole,” Yuki D. Takahashi, Advances in Space Research, Volume 31, Issue 11, Jun 2003, pp. 2473-2478]:

“For astronomical observations, the lunar surface presents unique advantages over free space mainly in two respects: [1] the Moon can shield disturbing radiation from intense sources like the Sun and Earth; and [2] a large platform is available for maintaining astronomical facilities in permanently stable configurations. Certain astronomical observations are possible only from the Moon. The most seriously investigated concept has been the very low frequency radio observatory [see, for example, Burns, et al., 1989]”



Paul van Susante , PhD candidate is engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden –

[Excerpt from “Reclaiming the Moon: Plans for a 21st Century Return,” Leonard David,, 4 June 2002 ]:

“One of the advantages of the Moon is that you can build a telescope center. You just don't build one telescope and leave it alone. You can evolve to a bigger complex … the Moon's South Pole offers the best location to build such an observatory.”



William G. Tifft , director, Manned Space Astronomy Branch, Steward Observatory, Arizona –

[Excerpt from “Astronomy, Space, and the Moon,” Astronautics & Aeronautics, Dec 1966, pp. 40-53]:

“The lunar observatory will come progressively, starting with environmental studies and small emplaced stations. Various investigations and design studies could lead to a pilot telescope of perhaps 50-in. aperture on a LEM truck or shelter in the mid-1970s. A permanently manned large telescope could come by 1980 … Several small outlying sites may be developed for continuous access to all parts of the sky … Instruments will be operated from one or more pressurized control centers by a crew that will probably rotate on about a yearly basis. A typical crew might include ‘space scientists’ … Leading observatories on Earth making major use of the facility might provide ‘observatory representatives,’ who would carry out assignments for their home staff … Once in a while uniquely talented men could be brought in as ‘passengers.’ Engineering scientists … would be needed to maintain the operating facility and basic ‘technical staff’ for general support. A variety of other scientists, including geologists, biologists, and physicists, would logically utilize the same basic location for their operations. The major astronomical center on the Moon could well emerge as the basic center for permanent lunar operations. It will come.”



Tom Phillips , director, Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, Mauna Kea , Hawaii –

[Quote from “…or, let’s go to the Moon [again],” Discover, Oct 2003]:

 “If anyone would offer us the opportunity to put a submillimeter array on the Moon, we would grab it.”



Paul T. P. Ho , project scientist, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array, Mauna Kea , Hawaii –

[Excerpt from “A Submillimeter and Far-Infrared Interferometer on the Moon,” paper presented at AIP Astrophysics From the Moon Conference, held in Houston, USA, 15-16 Aug 1989]:

“The principle advantages of the Moon in terms of interferometry at submillimeter and far-infrared wavelengths are the absence of an atmosphere, the availability of a stable platform, and the possibility of extremely long baselines. At the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, efforts are currently underway to construct a terrestrial submillimeter-wavelength interferometer on a high mountain site. However, even at an excellent site such as Mauna Kea , the number of nights with less than 1 mm of precipitable water is small, perhaps somewhere between 40 and 80 nights every year. On those occasions, opacities at submillimeter wavelengths down to 350 µm will be acceptable, while the far-infrared wavelengths will remain essentially blocked. In addition, the atmospheric extinction introduces phase instability. It can be calculated that seeing of better than 0.1” will be difficult to achieve from the surface of the Earth. Hence a lunar observatory, by virtue of the absence of an atmosphere, will provide transparency, unprecedented phase stability, and thus the kind of angular resolution that would otherwise not be possible.”



V. V. Shevchenko , E. A. Kozlova , Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, Moscow –

[Excerpt from “Permanently Shadowed Areas at the Lunar Poles: Nature and Possible Utilization,” University paper]:

“The polar regions ensure high quality astronomical opportunities because half of the sky is continuously visible from each pole. Inside cold trap it would not be hindrance from solar light. The cryogenic instrument can readily be operated there. Cryogenic telescope located in permanently shaded zone of crater bottom could view celestial objects for as long as desired in the observed half of the sky. Radio telescope located in the polar crater zone invisible from Earth would be shielded from the radio noise of Earth. The most suitable for polar lunar observatory is crater Shoemaker. The crater lays in the depression that is permanently shaded zone.”



Laurence E. Peterson , astrophysicist –

[Excerpt from “High Energy Astrophysics From the Moon,”, paper presented at AIP Astrophysics From the Moon Conference, held in Houston, USA, 15-16 Aug 1989]:

Table 3, High Energy Astronomy on the Moon Advantages. 1. Availability of long baselines for long focal length or multi-element systems. 2. Stable base for large multi-element systems [ease problems of co-alignment, coordinated pointing, and movable elements in such systems]. 3. Long observing times with stable environment [including radiation] and slow scan rates. 4. Manned assembly, repair and changeout. 5. Vacuum environment – no atmospheric absorption attenuation, or added background. 6. Quiet environment – no seismic noise, orbiting reactors, or variable magnetic field. 7. Ultra long Moon-Earth-planetary baselines for transient and intensity triangulation. 8. Simple operation where sun-avoidance required. 9. Easy passive cooling during lunar night. 10. Natural structures [craters and cliffs] part of supporting structure.

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