A Private Venture Wants to Build a Telescope on the Moon

There might not be a man on the moon right now—but there may soon be a gazing eye. A new private venture aims to build a long-range telescope on our planet's little satellite, and it could happen as soon 2016.

A partnership between Moon Express, Inc. and the International Lunar Observatory Association is all set to install the telescope on the humble lump of rock. The plan is to position the 2-meter dish antenna, known as the International Lunar Observatory, on the rim of a crater near the moon’s South pole.

The first step will be a proof-of-concept mission, which will see the partnership take a shoebox-sized device called ILO-X to the moon in 2015. If that's successful, the full-size telescope will follow early the next year.

The aim of the project is to provide new views of the universe—but the plan is to democratize star gazing, too. Data from the telescopes will be made freely available online for use by citizen scientists. But don't be entirely taken in by the good vibes—Moon Express admits that it's going to explore the area around the South pole for minerals and water while it's at it, too. [Moon Express via Verge]