Search giant Google is offering a $30m prize pot to private firms that land a robot rover on the Moon. The competition to send a robot craft to the Moon is being run with the X-Prize Foundation. To claim the cash, any craft reaching the lunar surface must perform a series of tasks such as shoot video and roam for specific distances. Firms interested in trying for the prize have until the end of 2012 to mount their Moonshot.
In a statement announcing the competition, Google and the X-Prize Foundation said it had been created in a bid to stimulate research into low-cost robotic exploration of space. The top prize of $20m will be given to the private firm that soft lands a rover on the Moon which then completes a series of objectives. These include roaming the lunar surface for at least 500m and gathering a specific set of images, video and data. A prize of $5m will be given to the second firm that manages to reach the Moon with a rover that roams the surface and shoots some pictures.
Google said it would give bonuses of $5m if the rovers complete other objectives such as travelling further on the Moon, taking pictures of Apollo hardware, finding water-ice and surviving the freezing lunar night. Rovers taking part must be fitted with high-definition video and still cameras.