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

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