Published: Dec. 23, 2019 By

DAPPER Mission concept in orbit around MoonFrom Space.com: NASA's quest to return humans to the moon could boost a field of research that might not seem particularly lunar in nature: cosmology.

But the far side of the moon could be a powerful place to answer some of the most compelling questions about the universe — and NASA's push to bring humans back to the moon could cut the prices enough to make this science a reality. Even a scientist leading the push for NASA to investigate these missions admits it wasn't the most intuitive idea when he first heard about it.

"We were [science fair] judges together and they were asking me what I thought about telescopes on the moon," Jack Burns, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Space.com. "And I said, I didn't think much about it at all. It just didn't occur to me."

Since then, he and his colleagues have thought about it a lot. Their conclusion is that observatories on the far side of the moon offer a unique opportunity for modern astronomers. Burns has spent this year thinking through two specific mission concepts designed to take advantage, focusing particularly on the period before stars began to form, called the dark ages. Read more...