Tag Archives: Rover

Google Puts $30 Million Up for Grabs In A Lunar Landing Competition

Google has created a lunar landing competition for private teams and/or companies to compete in. The competition, known as the “Google Lunar XPRIZE“, is offering successful participants over $30 million and is being called the “largest international incentive based prize of all time”.

In order to win the prize, a team or company must fist safely land their craft on the surface of the Moon. Then, the craft must travel above, below, or across the moon’s surface for at least 500 meters.

Finally, it must send back at least two “Mooncasts” (a video transmitted live from the lunar surface) for viewers on Earth. All of these tasks must be completed by December 31, 2015.

Google obviously has a financial stake in the $30 million competition, whether it be for publicity, marketing, branding or whatever else, but these are not Google’s only motivations. According to Google Lunar XPRIZE’s official website, the competition also hopes to,

“…create a new “Apollo” moment for this generation and to spur continuous lunar exploration,”

referring to the Apollo 11 mission, which put man on the moon for the first time. The website also points out that,

“More than half of the world’s population has never had the opportunity to view a live transmission from the lunar surface.”

Google Lunar XPRIZE is offering a grand prize of $20 million for the first place winner, but teams will also be competing for bonus prizes throughout the competition by completing specific terrestrial or in-space milestones.

Offering these milestone prizes and extra bonuses helps to encourage teams to continue to compete and innovate for the entirety of the competition, since it gives them the opportunity to obtain a return on their investments even if they don’t ultimately win the grand prize.

Also, the competition will be great publicity for any up-and-coming aerospace and robotics engineers or companies taking part.

Check out the video below to learn a little bit more about Google Lunar XPRIZE…

The teams competing have come from all over the world, and range from groups of college kids to sophisticated engineering and technology companies.

Teams had to register in 2010 and meet specific requirements to be eligible. The count started with 33 qualified teams, but is now down to just 18.

Hopefully one or even several of these teams will soon be opening new doors to the moon.


Incredible: NASA’s “3-Month Mission” Rover Now Clocks 10 Years on Mars Collecting Data (Video)

NASA’s Rover named Opportunity, better known as “Oppy”, has been on Mars collecting data for nearly ten years now. This is pretty incredible considering the rover was built intending to be operational for only three months!

The six wheeled rover landed on Mars on January 25th, 2004 and is still doing work in 2014. In the past decade it has covered over 38 km (approx. 23 miles) of surface and returned over 170,000 images back to Earth.

NASA is confident that despite the long but extremely impressive run and a few degrading components, “Oppy” still will be running for a while longer.

According to NASA

The right-front steering actuator is jammed and no longer steers. The same wheel also shows elevated currents, the robotic arm has some arthritis, and two of the scientific instruments no longer function. But in the past year, almost nothing has changed in the health and status of the rover.”

Despite the minor issues the rover has faced, Oppy has made all types of impressive findings in its time on Mars. One notable find was evidence of clay minerals, which only form in rocks that have been substantially altered by water.

According to CNN

It has found evidence for clay minerals, which form in rocks that have been substantially altered by water. In one place, these clays are of an iron-rich variety called smectite. In another location, Opportunity sees an aluminium-rich variety called montmorillonite. They are contained in what are among the oldest rocks the rover has yet seen on the planet, probably four billion-plus years old.”

This is just further evidence, says the rover’s deputy principal investigator, Ray Arvidson, that Mars was warmer and wetter in its distant past and had the potential, therefore, to support microbial life.

Check Out the full story here.


China Ends 37 Year Lunar Landing Dry Spell By Landing Their First Moon Rover Ever Successfully (Video)

China landed an unmanned spacecraft called Chang’e-3 today (12/14/13) successfully on the Moon, according to Shanghai media. Making it the first “soft landing” on the moon since 1976, and allowing China to join the club as one of three countries to have ever landed missions on the moon (China, USA, Soviet Union). A “soft landing” is a controlled landing that does not damage the craft or the equipment it carries. Also according to NASA, although this mission is being entirely organized and controlled by the Chinese all data collected will be given to the international science community. Check Out the below video for full coverage of the mission.

The landmark mission is something that China is very proud of. Although very behind in the Space Industry, it is a step in the right direction in accomplishing their long term goal of building a working space station by 2020. The Apollo Missions brought back over 800 pounds of moon rock as well as numerous amounts of diverse data, thus many feel there is little scientific reason to send a mission to the moon at this time. But regardless, the Chinese people are very proud of their mission as they should be, it is still a great accomplishment that only three countries have ever achieved.

All Lunar Landings prior to China's December 14, 2013 Landing
All Lunar Landings prior to China’s December 14, 2013 Landing

Check Out the below video for more information on the recent Chinese Landing.

Check Out the below video footage of Neil Armstrong’s first steps onto the Moon back in 1969.