How It Works
World’s first lunar telescope
George Carruthers 1939-present
Back in 1972, scientist George Carruthers opened humanity’s eyes to the universe around us through the lens of his ‘Lunar Surface Ultraviolet Camera’. In 1969 Carruthers was awarded the patent for the device previously known as the ‘Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wavelengths’. To put it in a nutshell, Carruthers’ invention could observe Earth’s atmosphere from the Moon and take a glimpse at neighbouring stars and nebulae based on the radiation they emit. Shipped aboard the tenth crewed mission to the Moon, Apollo 16, once placed on the lunar surface the camera took more than 550 ultraviolet images of stars across the cosmos, nebulae and unknown galaxies. Carruthers’ creation also collected data on Earth’s atmosphere and the concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere.
Carruthers (right) examining the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph that became the first Moon-based observatory © U.S. Naval Research Laboratory