The latest challenge to arise from the Google Lunar X Prize (a space competition organised by the X Prize foundation and sponsored by Google) will be to put a robotic lander on the moon, drive at least 500 meters across the surface, and send high definition video back to Earth by 2015. The first team to do this will be awarded the princely sum of 20 million dollars.
The idea behind the competition is to encourage space travel with little to no government assistance – only privately funded companies will be eligible to claim the prize. At the moment, outer space travel is extremely costly, and by offering this 20 million dollar prize and encouraging private companies to undergo the challenge, we may be able to see relatively cheap travel off-planet in the future.
On top of the 20 million, there are extra prizes available if you can travel up to 5km, if you are able to find previous traces of human activity on the moon, or if you can find traces of water. And don’t worry if you happen to come in second – Google are still awarding a 5 million dollar consolation prize.