X Prize, Google to Put User Images on Moon Rovers

Google to Sponsor $30 Million Lunar X Prize
A screen shot of the Lunar Legacy home page, where users can submit a photo and message to go to the moon for $10. (Image credit: X Prize Foundation)

Apollo 16astronaut Charles Duke placed a photo of his family on the surface of the moonin 1972--and for a $10 donation you may be able to do the same.

The "LunarLegacy" program comes from the X Prize Foundation, which has teamed upwith Google to offera $30 million purse for anyone able to land a privately funded rover on themoon by December 31, 2012.

A majorcomponent of the challenge is for the rovers to beam back about 1 GB worth ofdata. Aboard finalist vehicles that make it to the launch pad, Google willreserve a portion of space to store users' photos and personal messages, or"legacies."

"Detailsare still being worked out, but we fully intend to broadcast, or 'mooncast', anumber of our supporters' legacies back to Earth," said X Prize founderPeter Diamandis in a statement. "Which means that one of our Lunar Legacy creatorswill quite literally be the Neil Armstrong of private space exploration."

By usingthe Web site www.googlelunarxprize.org, users can upload a photo up to 1 MB insize along with a message. Each legacy, however, will have to be reviewed anddeemed as ?flight ready? by program officials.

Once alegacy is approved, it will be added to an official online gallery hosted byGoogle and the X Prize Foundation.

The SantaMonica, Calif.-based X Prize Foundation has offered a series of cash awards fortechnological achievements in the fields of spaceflight, genomics and theautomotive industry. In 2004, the foundation awarded the $10million Ansari X Prize for the first privately built and crewed suborbitalspacecraft. X Prize also organizes the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander CentennialChallenge competition for NASA.

Click here for more information onthe X Prize Foundation's Lunar Legacy program.

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