(MSNBC) This week at a workshop entitled "Astrophysics Enabled by the Return to the Moon" at the Space Telescope Science Institute here, astrophysicists are discussing such moon plans, including the idea of setting up telescopes on the lunar surface.
"The main purpose is to really for the first time in many years have a very diverse group of astrophysicists come together and talk about whether it makes sense to do astrophysics from the moon now that we've got NASA committed to sending people there and putting up infrastructure there," said Laurie Leshin, Director of Sciences and Exploration at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
A lunar telescope would have several advantages over its Earthen brethren, mainly being able to view the cosmos without the filter of an atmosphere. Larger telescopes could also be built due the moon's gravity being one-sixth's of Earth.
Unfortunately the lack of an atmosphere can be dangerous, as virtually anything falling from space can easily destroy these telescopes without proper shielding. Dust will also be a major problem if humans are operating the telescope, although NASA (or a private space company) is probably working on resolving both of these issues.
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