Set foot on an alien world, on average three to four billion miles from the warmth of the sun.
On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto, scanning the dwarf planet in unprecedented detail. Using data from that flyby, The New York Times created a seven-minute virtual reality film. Fly over Pluto’s rugged surface, stand among the icy al-Idrisi Mountains and touch down in frost-rimmed Elliot Crater. The film was produced in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Universities Space Research Association.
Created in 2007, the mission of the Google Lunar XPRIZE is to incentivize space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond.
The competition’s $30 million prize purse will be awarded to teams who are able to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images.
The first team that successfully completes this mission will be awarded the $20 million Grand Prize. The second team to successfully complete the mission will be awarded $5 million. To win either of these prizes, teams must prove that 90% of their mission costs were funded by private sources. Teams have until the end of 2016 to announce a verified launch contract to remain in the competition and complete their mission by the end of 2017.
Why the Moon? The Moon is not only our nearest neighbor in space, but it is also the gateway to the rest of the universe. Formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the Moon provides exciting opportunities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, resource detection and utilization, and human habitation.
Science Projects: The Moon has already impacted the way we think about future exploration through previous discoveries, such as the existence of lava tubes potentially big enough to support a lunar base and the detection of ice at the lunar poles.
All of these discoveries have been made from lunar orbit. Now think of all the exciting research opportunities for scientists if they can have access to the lunar surface!
Abundant Resources: The Moon is a treasure chest of rare metals and other beneficial materials that can be used here on Earth. A successful Google Lunar XPRIZE would result in cost-effective and reliable access to the Moon, allowing for the development of new methods of discovering and using space resources, and in the long-term, helping to expand human civilization into space.
To Infinity and Beyond: The Moon is an essential stepping-stone to the rest of the universe, and the opportunity to learn from our closest neighbor can provide the necessary experience to further humanity’s presence in the solar system and beyond.
Private Exploration: The technologies developed by the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams will further reduce costs and barriers to entry so that private industry can work alongside government agencies and advance lunar exploration.
Learn more at http://lunar.xprize.org