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Inspired by several questions:

If one wanted to resolve 1 meter or smaller detail on the surface of the Moon from the surface of the Earth (about 2.6E-09 or 0.5 mas) at say 1 micron wavelength one would need a baseline of order 400 meters.

The longest current optical baselines are only 40 to 80 meters and the longest one currently under construction is the Magdalena Ridge Optical Interferometer which

will have ten 1.4 m (55 in) telescopes located on three 340 m (1,120 ft) arms. Each arm will have nine stations where the telescopes can be positioned, and one telescope can be positioned at the center.

This is sufficient to have of the order of 1 meter resolution at the Moon's distance, but being optimized for star-like sources it's not clear if it will be able to image extended objects like the surface of the Moon.

Question: Will the Magdalena Ridge Optical Interferometer be able to image extended objects like the surface of the Moon, or is it designed only to separate a few star-like objects, e.g. binary stars or star + planetary systems?

note: If information on this specific observatory isn't available, it would be certainly informative to extrapolate from existing imaging work from long baseline optical interferometers. The Moon presents a big challenge since its surface brightness extends over quite a large solid angle, so pinholes at the focus of each telescope in the array would generate a lot of diffracted/scattered light, whereas imaging star-like objects against a dark field would be less susceptible.

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  • $\begingroup$ If anybody can provide the formulas to calculate equivalent telescope size of an optical array of telescopes, I could add it to this page for quick calculations: win98.altervista.org/telescopio.html I think such formulas also involve wavelength, it's not just a matter of distance between telescopes. $\endgroup$ – jumpjack Nov 13 at 9:11

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