A small-sized telescope, named ILO-X, is a precursor to the original astronomical lunar observatory (ILO), which will be launched to the moon by 2014. Scientists will be at the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii today to test what will eventually be the world’s first optical space telescope on the Moon.

The telescope will deliver the astronomical images from the surface of the Moon. Scientists can access the telescope over the Internet and can operate it. Former ISRO chief U.R. Rao and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has been part of this initiative.

The ILO is a philanthropic project of Steve Durst, and is led by the non-profit International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA). A Silicon Vally startup, Moon Express inc. is carrying out the project. Moon Express is a lunar transportation and data services company which explores and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit. The company has been building ILO-X since September 2010.