While NASA told us that no planets or stars could be observed from the Moon’s surface because of the Sun’s reflection, the Chinese proved otherwise by exposing their project kept as a secret since 2013.
China researchers have reported that their robotic telescope has been working accurately ever since it set up camp on the Moon in 2013. It was brought there by the Chang’e 3 lander that carried the Yutu rover, which continuously faced challenges on the lunar surface until it stopped working in March this year.
Even if the rover broke off, the Chinese lander and the ultraviolet robotic telescope are still up and running. Since 2013, it has spent 2,000 hours overseeing 40 different stars. The team of researchers handling the telescope also snapped a picture of the Pinwheel galaxy, shown below.
It sees in ultraviolet light, therefor it can detect and observe celestial bodies that otherwise cannot be seen from Earth, as Jin Wang of the National Astronomical Observatories in Bijing, China, who is in charge of the telescope, declared:
There is no atmosphere on the moon, so unlike Earth, the ultraviolet light from celestial objects can be detected on the moon, and since the moon rotates 27 times more slowly than the Earth, the scope can stay fixed on the same star for a dozen days without interruption.
The Chinese robotic telescope it’s the first of its kind and is also unique, being the first to be manned completely from Earth, this way offering the Chinese countless benefits.
The project was really challenging, as the moon’s surface is a hostile environment, full of biting lunar dust that can easily sneak into equipment and destroy the electronic components. As a safety measure, the telescope is stashed within the Chang’e 3 lunar lander in order to protect it from the sunset and sunrise on the Moon.
Expected to last for only a year, the telescope outlived its predictions and is still running in good shape. Surprised by its formidable endurance, the Chinese will most likely extend this successful and until now secret lunar mission, at the end of this year.