Liquid mirror telescopes differ from conventional telescopes by their primary mirrors—the ones that gather and focus light—which are made from a reflective liquid instead of polished glass. Poured into a spinning container, the liquid spreads out and forms a thin, perfectly smooth, and parabolic shape that can be used as a telescope mirror.
In a 1991 paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, Professor Borra had suggested the building of a liquid telescope on the moon. In that paper , Borra demonstrated the practical and economic advantages of liquid mirror telescopes over their conventional counterparts and explained how an observatory free from the Earth’s atmospheric disturbance could further our understanding of the early universe.
The project, which seemed almost like science-fiction at the time, gained renewed interest in 2004 when it received financial support from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, an organization which funds projects that can potentially push back the limits of science and space technology.
The project’s main challenge consisted in finding a liquid capable of resisting the conditions on the moon’s surface and functioning in temperatures required for infrared observations, i.e. below -143 degrees Celsius.
In their Nature article, the researchers explain how they successfully coated an ionic liquid with silver by vaporizing it in a vacuum, something never achieved before in the field of optics. The resulting silver layer is perfectly smooth, highly reflective, remains stable for months, and the ionic liquid on which it lies does not evaporate.
The liquid mirror envisioned for the lunar telescope would be 20 to 100 meters in diameter, making it up to 1,000 times more sensitive than the proposed next generation of space telescopes.
Such a lunar telescope will not be available to researchers in the near future, admits Borra. “However, if we hadn’t found the solution described in our article in Nature, it would have meant the end of the whole project.”
Jean-François Huppé | EurekAlert!
A two-atom quantum duet
12.11.2018 | Institute for Basic Science
Improving understanding of how the Solar System is formed
12.11.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.
Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy