- Google Lunar XPrize to reward $20 million to teams landing on the moon to send scientific images and videos
- Teams required either to look for water or to find Apollo Mission landing sites
A $20 million cash prize is set for the first team to land on the moon. The Google Lunar XPrize basically challenges privately funded teams to compete in the program.
The teams will need to travel 500 meters and send back pictures and videos to qualify for the prize.
That being said, only teams with a contract to launch their spacecraft by end of 2017 will be permitted to stay in the competition. Lunar XPrize authorities have, so far, confirmed launches for only five out of the 16 industry teams taking the challenge.
Teams Sanctioned So Far
The five teams booked to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize carry totally different approaches to roving on the moon and carrying out their missions.
For instance, Israel’s SpaceIL has a lander that hops across the surface with thrusters and uses a magnetometer to perform scientific activities on the moon. Team Indus from India, on the other hand, has a four-wheeler rover designed to carry out up to eight crowd-sourced experiments.
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Other teams include Moon Express and Synergy Moon, both from the U.S., and Part-Time Scientists from Germany.
How The Program Works
The prize that awaits the winning team, which shall be first to land on the moon, traverse 500 meters, and return with pictures and videos, is a whopping $20 million.
That being said, the program in return benefits science as well, according to SCIENCE magazine. As explained by director of technical operations Andrew Barton, “movement over the surface and communication with Earth are basic technologies for many future science missions.”
The program also has two bonus prizes. First, the water discovery bonus; second, the Apollo Heritage Bonus Prize. Both prizes are set at $4 million each.
In order to qualify for the water discovery bonus, teams will need to detect water on the surface and publish a peer-reviewed paper to prove their findings. For the other bonus, teams must broadcast video and pictures from any of the Apollo Mission landing sites.
As of now, none of the teams seem to be inclined towards looking for water. A reason could be the fact that water is most likely found in permanently shady craters at the poles, and these are difficult points for solar-powered rovers to reach.