A 600 m 2 array of 6.5 m telescopes at the lunar pole

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2 Scopus citations


The proposed lunar telescope for optical and infrared astronomy aims at very large aperture, 600 m 2, at a fundable cost. It comprises an array of 18 separate telescopes, each of 6.5 m aperture. The 200 m diameter array will be located within 1/2° (15 km) of a lunar pole on approximately level ground, with a perimeter screen deployed to provide shade and cooling to cryogenic temperature. The 500 m diameter screen will allow unobscured access down to 8° elevation. All 18 telescopes will reflect light into a central beam combiner to form a single image covering wavelengths from 0.4 µm to 10 µm. The initial instrument complement will include high-resolution and multi-object spectrographs to exploit the single combined field of view of two arcminute diameter, with the diffraction limited resolution of 6.5 m aperture. Scientific applications include the search for molecular biosignatures in transiting exoplanets, and the study of galaxy evolution using red-shifted spectra to beyond z = 10. The array cost, including delivery to the Moon by SpaceX Starship for installation using lunar base infrastructure, is around $10 billion, similar to that of the 25 m 2 JWST. To test the concept, first a single prototype 6.5 m unit would be operated at the lunar south pole. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Astronomy from the Moon: the next decades (part 2)'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20230076
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2271
StatePublished - May 9 2024


  • early universe
  • exoplanet biosignatures
  • lunar pole
  • telescope array

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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