Scientists test private optical space telescope to be launched to the Moon, deliver astronomical images from the lunar surface

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

WAIMEA, Hawaii, 21 Dec. 2011. The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), led by Steve Durst, continues to advance toward its goal of placing an astronomical observatory on the Moon by 2014 designed to capture never-before-seen images of the galaxy, stars, Moon, and Earth. The association completed a global demonstration of the International Lunar Observatory precursor instrument (ILO-X) on the Summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, hosted by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). During the demonstration, science teams from around the world accessed the instrument via the Internet and operated it as if it were on the Moon. 

Moon Express, a contender for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, designed and is building the International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X) as the first astronomical telescope that will operate on the Moon. Roughly the size of a shoe-box, the ILO-X uses leading-edge optical and imaging technology to deliver inspiring deep-sky pictures of objects inside and outside the Milky Way Galaxy.
The ILO-X is expanding the model of commercial space investment to the Moon for science, education, exploration, and commercial activities, such as Lunar Broadcasting of Space Calendar through affiliated Space Age Publishing Company.  Astronomers from the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, China, India, Canada, Japan, Europe, and Africa attended, demonstrating international collaboration in space exploration enabled through the commercial space sector.

"The primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation from our Moon," says Steve Durst, ILOA founder and director. "We are extremely encouraged by our Global Demonstration and are excited about sending the ILO-X to the Moon."

"The ILO will allow researchers, educators and students from around the world to access astronomical images from the surface of the Moon," explains Bob Richards, co-founder and CEO of Moon Express. "It's inspirational science at its best."


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