Google now has a moon contest going on, called the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
They are offering prizes totally US $30 million to privately-funded teams that can build a robot that can land on the moon's surface, explore the Moon by moving at least 500 meters (~1/3 of a mile), and return (beam) high definition video and imagery back to earth.
According to the contest rules, the aim of the contest is to foster in a new era of lunar exploration, aka Moon 2.0, which thrives on being international and participatory, and derives much of its strength from the cooperation and collaboration between civil space agencies and private firms"
The website for the contest is http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/
There are four (4) categories of prizes:
- A grand prize of $20 million. To incentivise teams to work quickly, this will change to $15 million when a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013
- 2nd prize of $5 million for the team who next-completes the contest objective.
- $4 billion in bonus prizes including the robot's ability to operate at night; travel more than 5km over the lunar surface,;detect water and precision-land near an Apollo site or other lunar sites of interest (such as landing/crash sites of man-made space hardware).
- $1 million to the team that demonstrates the greatest attempts to promote diversity in the field of space exploration.
According to Wikipedia article,"Google Lunar X Prize", twenty-nine (29) teams have officially registered.
They have been encouraged to get funding from private sources - such as customers, investors, sponsors, and donors. However, teams are encouraged to seek government customers who'd be willing to purchase services and data at commercially reasonable rates.
One of the great things about this contest is that the public gets to see the prototypes that the teams have been working on since 2006 and see how far the teams have progressed...
...Which really makes the Google Lunar X PRIZE site rock!
Technology lovers, professionals, managers and business owners - if you want to see the future of technology, you've just got to check this site out!
You can get great insights into how technology is progressing where space exploration is concerned...and maybe you can also foresee possible applications here on earth. :)
Unfortunately the deadline for entries to the contest closed on December 31,2010. (Remember this contest started way back in 2006).
But the Google Lunar X PRIZE site is well worth a visit, you'll definitely learn a lot!
By the way, which teams do you think have the greatest potential of winning and getting the top prizes?
1) Article, "Google Lunar X Prize", via Wikipedia.org, accessed November 4,2011
2) Preview of Google Moon Contest via Current.com, accessed November 4,2011
3) BBC World Service programme, Science in Action coverage of team Moon Express, (a team in the Google Lunar X PRIZE), November 3,2011