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First-ever mission to Moon’s South Pole announced

July 21 (): Two private companies are planning the first ever mission to the Moon’s South Pole as they want to plant telescopes on top of a lunar mountain as early as 2016.

This plan is being directed by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), a non-profit venture aiming to build a scientific and commercial base on the moon, with help from the start-up Moon Express, which hopes to become a Space Age version of FedEx in the coming decade.

These two companies have chosen this tricky location as they consider the telescopes will get a clear view of our galaxy at this place.

The location of the telescopes will be able to deliver the clearest images of the Milky Way galaxy because they would not be subjected to misty interference from the atmosphere of the Earth. The moon would also protect them from radio and other electromagnetic waves created by modern human technology. The quality of the images is also expected to exceed anything produced by the best space-based instruments.

They have planned to install a two-metre radio antenna, plus a smaller optical telescope on the elevated rim of the Malpert crater.

One of the reasons for placing the final telescope, termed ILO-1, so high on a crater ridge on the moon’s South Pole is to deliver a constant vector for data transmission to and from Earth. Moreover, extremes of coldness and hotness, near weightlessness and difficulty in providing maintenance at the moon’s South Pole also pose significant concerns.

The spot on the Malpert crater also has the benefit of a slightly milder climate than the dark side of the moon. The South Pole would enjoy sunlight for 90 per cent of the moon’s day and consequently a relatively stable temperature of approximately minus 50 degrees Celsius.

Both the telescopes can easily be reached by the people over the internet, creating what Moon Express calls “a new model of ‘citizen science’”.