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Robots to install telescopes to peer into cosmos from the moon

Updated : 2019-07-16 10:41:58

As the United States races to put humans back on the moon for the first time in nearly 50 years, a NASA-funded lab in Colorado aims to send robots there to deploy telescopes that will look far into our galaxy, remotely operated by orbiting astronauts. The radio telescopes, to be planted on the far side of the moon, are among a plethora of projects underway by the US space agency, private companies and other nations that will transform the moonscape in the coming decade. “This is not your grandfather's Apollo programme that we're looking at,” said Jack Burns, director of the Network for Exploration and Space Science at the University of Colorado, which is working on the telescope project. “This is really a very different kind of programme and very importantly it's going to involve machines and humans working together,” Burns said in an interview at his lab on the Boulder campus. Sometime in the coming decade, Burns' team will send a rover aboard a lunar lander spacecraft to the far side of the moon. The rover will rumble across the craggy and rough surface - featuring a mountain taller than any on earth - to set up a network of radio telescopes with little help from humans. Astronauts will be able to control the rover’s single robotic arm from an orbital lunar outpost called Gateway, which an international consortium of space agencies is building. The platform will provide access to and from the moon's surface and serve as a refueling station for deep space missions.

University of Colorado Boulder director of NASA/NLSI Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder director of NASA/NLSI Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns points out locations on a lunar globe at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns points out locations on a lunar globe at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns (C) talks to NASA Postdoctoral Program senior fellow David Rapetti (L) and PhD student Neil Bassett (R) at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns (C) talks to NASA Postdoctoral Program senior fellow David Rapetti (L) and PhD student Neil Bassett (R) at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder graduate researcher Ben Mellinkoff (L) sets up an experiment for Armstrong, an assembly robot that utilizes low latency telerobotics that would allow close to real-time video monitoring of operations on the far side of the moon, at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder graduate researcher Ben Mellinkoff (L) sets up an experiment for Armstrong, an assembly robot that utilizes low latency telerobotics that would allow close to real-time video monitoring of operations on the far side of the moon, at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder undergraduate researcher Mason Bell checks the video feed while running an experiment for Armstrong, an assembly robot that utilizes low latency telerobotics that would allow close to real-time video monitoring of operations on the far side of the moon, at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder undergraduate researcher Mason Bell checks the video feed while running an experiment for Armstrong, an assembly robot that utilizes low latency telerobotics that would allow close to real-time video monitoring of operations on the far side of the moon, at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder PhD student Dan Prendergast participates in an experiment to test whether he operates a robot better in 2D or virtual reality at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. The team's findings may help determine what camera systems will be implemented on robots destined to perform tasks on the moon. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
University of Colorado Boulder PhD student Dan Prendergast participates in an experiment to test whether he operates a robot better in 2D or virtual reality at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. The team's findings may help determine what camera systems will be implemented on robots destined to perform tasks on the moon. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
Jack Burns, who is working with NASA to put telescopes on the moon by using telerobotic technology, stands for a portrait at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, US, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo
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