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Science Cases for MoonLITE: the Lunar InTerferometry Explorer

Presentation #236.04 in the session The Present and Future of High Resolution Imaging with Optical and Radio Interferometry.

Published onJul 01, 2023
Science Cases for MoonLITE: the Lunar InTerferometry Explorer

The MoonLITE (Lunar InTerferometry Explorer) project is an NASA Astrophysics Pioneers proposal to develop, build, fly, and operate the first separated-aperture optical interferometer in space, delivering faint, sub-milliarcsecond science results. MoonLITE combines a 110 microarcsecond limiting spatial resolution with enough sensitivity to observe targets fainter than 17th magnitude in the visible. The capabilities of MoonLITE open unique discovery space for objects both near and far. The facility will make first direct size measurements of M-dwarfs later than M6, as well as brown dwarfs, will constrain linear size and effective temperature modeling for these objects. MoonLITE will search for close-in stellar companions orbiting exoplanet-hosting stars, guiding our understanding and characterization of the frequency of earth-like planets It will make direct size measurements of young stellar objects and characterize of the terrestrial planet forming regions of these young stars. MoonLITE will make measurements of the inner regions and binary fraction of active galactic nuclei It will also explore limits of the Planck length by observing point sources at increasingly cosmological distances. A portion of MoonLITE’s observing time will be also made available to the broader community via a guest observer program; we anticipate the wider community will come up with other novel applications of this revolutionary capability.

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