The Google Lunar X-Prize
No more petty cash for dumb little CodeJams. This time its HUGE. Make a bot/rover/etc that will go to the moon (yes the real moon you see every night), take high definition pics and videos, and return to earth. Also, YOU are the one responsible for actually launching the thing, making it land and then getting it back to Earth (if possible, with lunar soil samples).
Now thats some challenge. Coding algorithms seems petty in front of this. The prize money for CodeJam seems petty too. Actually, the CodeJam money is nothing in front of the lunar x prize. USD 10,000 of CodeJam in front of USD 20 million of the lunar challenge. This money is HUGE.
But well, the prize money seems to be “correct” considering the costs of the bot/rover/etc. Just launching the craft from Earth to the moon using the cheapest space vehicle costs about USD 7.9 million (using the falcon 1). Then there are other things like making the bot/rover/etc “space-proof” and making it such that it can take impacts (yes moon’s gravity is low… but you never know when the bot/rover/etc might fall into a crater on the moon).
As of now, only a few teams have registered. But the last date of registration is still about 1-1.5 years from now. I think more teams will register. Maybe one team from BITS-Pilani, Goa Campus will also register But this challenge is HUGE… you need to know wireless communications (with satellites that is), atleast some good AI, a bit of image processing, robotics, mechatronics, avionics, programming and the skill of controlling a bot/rover/etc remotely!
The last date of “submitting” you “entry” is somewhere in the year 2012 (if you want the whole $20m). But you can send your entry till 2014, but then you won’t get the whole amount. Well who wants? Just USD 5 million would be enough!!!
If you want to have a look, go here: http://www.googlelunarxprize.org
Nasa, ISRO, etc are all goign to be of no use now… normal humans can send their own things to the moon… and who knows, maybe even Pluto!