One interesting side effect of the age of science is knowing things and allowing curiosity far more leeway than was given us during the age of religion, nationalism and violence. Of course, there is massive pressure to continue the age of religion, nationalism and violence, but there is progress and I can always hope we’ll give wisdom, curiosity and tolerance more leeway as we explore not only our own world but the vast heavens we once thought were gods and unapproachable.
Maybe, if we give our avid curiosity more rein, we can replace the fear and anxiety we’re feeling as we buy our children and grandchildren Kevlar shields to put in their backpacks. I continue to hope (and pray) for a resurgence of curiosity and awe at the new worlds and exciting views we’re getting of not only our own territory but the incredibly enormous, impossibly old, and magnificently varied universe in which we find ourselves. This is an opportunity to see what’s happened eons in the past and to explore more than just our own solar system.
The Hubble Space telescope has given us magnificent pictures of galaxies and clusters of galaxies and superclusters of clusters of galaxies, pictures of things far off in space and far back in time. It has identified the Lynx Supercluster, a 3-D grouping of billions of stars spread over a vast volume of space that existed 12,900,000,000 years ago 12.9 billion light-years away from our current position and was THEN as we see it today.
The Hubble Space telescope mirror has a diameter of 2.4 meters or 7.9 feet in diameter and has taken over a million high-resolution photographs of our vast visible universe since a flaw in the mirror was fixed in December, 1993. It has opened our eyes to far older, far grander, and far more complicated things than the philosophers, prophets, and poets of the earlier days on Earth could even imagine!
What might a much larger telescope shielded from all Earth and near-Earth light and electronic chatter disclose to us?
L2 and L5 (and/or L4) provide a way to construct an immense telescope on the moon with its focal point at L2, sitting dead center behind the bulk of the moon from the Earth. With multiple, movable mirrors on the far side of the moon to reflect light back to receptors at L2 and information relays at L2 and L5, we could look at details on distant planetary systems and possibly peer much farther back in time and distance. If nothing else, we could get vastly clearer images and readings of much smaller objects without any interference from any Earth or near-Earth electronics or optics.
I know it would be expensive, but it would actually be doing something productive. I happen to think space exploration and science exploration isn’t a luxury but a necessity. If religion and nationalism can demand huge budgets and great sacrifices, shouldn’t something actually useful and uplifting merit support?
Other types of instrumentation could be located on the far side of the moon as well and the existence of these two (or three) communication centers would allow contact with Earth and a regular and robust flow of information and commands back and forth.
If we can spend trillions of dollars bullying other countries, blowing things up, as well as mayhem and killing, a sizable budget to at least get a glimpse of something greater than ourselves would be far more useful and possibly highly inspirational. It might even have a decent chance of detecting extraterrestrial technology sprinkled about the vast and varied parts of the 99.99999% of our Visible Universe yet largely unexplored.
©David N. Dodson, August, 2019, Phoenix, AZ