Skip to main content

On the Moon and Need a Telescope? Make Your Own!

Hauling stuff up to the moon can get heavy and expensive. That's why Peter Chen and other NASA researchers (right down the road in Greenbelt, MD) have been working on a way to build telescopes using moon materials.

They have already managed to make a telescope mirror out of moon dirt (called "regolith" in space jargon), carbon nanotubes, and a pinch of epoxy. In something like lunar pottery, they spun the concrete-like mixture into a parabolic bowl shape, characteristic of a telescope mirror.

The bowl was placed into a vacuum chamber, thinly coated it with aluminum to make a mirror 1 foot in diameter. So far the method used by Chen and others is working, lunar telescope builders wouldn't even need a vacuum chamber, thanks to the moon's lack of atmosphere.

There are a few challenges however, such as lunar dust contamination that builders would have to somehow prevent while working. Plus, a spinning table would still have to be loaded onto rockets from earth and carried up to make the parabolic bowl.

The next part of the project aims to solve the problems of lunar dust, by creating an even larger mirror (1.64 foot by 3.23 foot) using simulated lunar dust. Improving the quality of the mirror and perfecting it's surface are also goals.


Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?