Google announces a New Moon Race




 

Google has announced a new X-prize type challenge. Your team can win 20 million bucks. If you can accomplish it's simple task.
Build a robotic rover, launch it,  land it on the Earth's Moon and drive it at least 500 meters (1640 feet) Oh and send back video (of course).
There are a lot of things to ponder when building a robot that could work in the moons environment. Things like surface conditions Rocks, holes and dust, low gravity, extreme high and low temperatures, vacuum, nasty solar radiation. Of course it also has to survive the launch and landing and free itself from the landing craft... Just to mention a few of the problems.

This project is a Major challenge!

Piece of cake and stuff...

It's been a long time since a robot drove on the Lunar surface and a lot of  Earth based machines have been built by thousands of folks since then. A few machines have even been to Mars. So even though this task is incredibly difficult to pull off. Putting together teams of experienced and (New) robot builders is totally possible. A lot of off the shelf components have been developed that could be adapted for robotic platforms capable of functioning for awhile. Personally I believe that this competition is a great idea. A challenge like this gets folks thinking about, understanding and solving a difficult problem and encourages people to work together. Wouldn't it be cool if  high school or college team's could get the funding and support from industry to develop several machines and then run some regional and then final competitions and actually launch the best design?  Of course there are a lot of folks that will say that money, time and effort could be used for more pressing problems on this planet. But humans tend to be competitive and nothing gets the creative juices flowing through the brains and hands, like a good old fashion Moon Race.

There are several groups that support this forward way of  thinking. Event's like FIRST, Battlebot's IQ, Robot Fighting League , Combots , Seattle Robotics Society , Federation of International Robosoccer Association ,

This is and excellent opportunity for builders from around the world to collaborate and cooperate on a lofty goal. I'm my years of competing at robotic competitions I have seen the amazing ability of people to work together for something that they believe in. Event though there are social, cultural and language difference's. Technology and the need for team work has proven to be the universal rosetta stone. Yes we can work together and we should. It's a beautiful thing when folks realize that Science Is Really Cool...
 
 

For those of you that always wanted to think like a rocket scientist. Well here's your chance.....
 

I wonder what a machine (rover) would need to survive and function? What kind of machine would you build?

Well so far only two robotic rovers have made it to the moon and drove around on the surface they came from Russia in the 1970's.
The robots were called Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2 .   They actually traveled several miles from their landing craft and sent back lots of pictures and data. There is a lot that can be learned from studying these machines.  Though the technology is over 35 years old, the problems the designers faced remain the same. Even with modern components it would be difficult to exceed the milestones that these machine set. This was a very successful program.
 

How do you get a robot to the moon any ways?

Getting to the Moon and SOFT  landing there is still very difficult and exspensive. Although some folks are working on systems to reduce the cost (hopefully).
Companys like Space X have been building boosters to try and reduce the cost's of getting to Earth Orbit with heavy payloads. Maybe one of their systems could be adapted.

Of course there are some very reliable and proven boosters like the Delta II if you have a few extra dollars lying around. Some recent good news from the United Launch Alliance Another contender could be the Proton rocket from Russia. It has also been proven to be very reliable and powerful. Arianespace definately has some proven launch technology as well. Of course now you would need a spacecraft and a lander to get you from earth's orbit to the moon.

There is yet another X-Prize contest were several teams are competing on building a lander right now...

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge   Hey maybe some of the pieces are starting to come together through competitions like this..
 
 

Where do you get funding?  Now there's the $100,000,000 question...
 
 
 
 
 




The rules of the contest

Google Lunar X Prize , Google Lunar X terms and conditions , Competition guidelines ,

The Google X-prize in the news..

Google Earth Blog , Gismodo  , Cybernet News , Mercury news , Space.com , CNET News ,
 

Some Video's

Google's Promo movie

James Cameron's endorsement

Arthur C. Clarke's endorsement

Google


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