Moon Roundup: Lindbergh's Legacy
The teams want to make the Moon as normal as a flight across the Atlantic---and here's how.
By Nick Azer on May 07, 2014
This week, on the road to the Moon...
As a place...the Moon now may seem like it's abstract, far away. [Image: NASA.]
But that's not always going to be the case:
“Our goal is to make the Moon as close as the next continent."
The Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, and the people behind them, are looking to change things; instead of a strange, futuristic world where only a few people have had access, the Moon will become as normal as next week's flights across the ocean to Europe or the Americas.
To make this happen...your average Joe wasn't about the fly over the ocean without an example to follow---or someone bold to prove it! It took a man named Charles Lindbergh (and the many who attempted it before him) to make it happen, and by winning the $25,000 Orteig Prize, he made things change. For the awesome.
Then, it was $25,000 and the Atlantic; today, it's our $20 million, and the surface of the Moon.
Then, it was the Spirit of St. Louis---Lindy's trusty airplane---that made the trip. But what are the adventurers & leaders of today using to get to the Moon?
Robots. And rockets.
But especially robots!
And, this week, some of the teams competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE were busy showing them off (and getting their robotic Moon-legs ready):
That's team Synergy Moon 's latest rover going for a test. Stretching those wheels, if you will. They also recently completed a rocket test (sending a rockstar's album into space in the process), and will be available live for a Q+A in a few weeks! (Follow our G+ to stay tuned.)
Meanwhile, team Hakuto 's plucky little "TETRIS" robot showed that it can appreciate long walks on the beach; which, actually, are not entirely different than a trip across the Moon. The pulverization of the surface by trillions of impacts (over billions of years) has made the Moon's soil rather soft and powdery to the foot or wheel (yet still sharp, which is odd):
The Moon's surface is not only sand-dune like, but it actually smells like gunpowder.
For traversing the Moon, wheels are one thing, but literal legs can be another. Team Italia were busy testing theirs, with their spider-bot, Ladyfly, on a six-legged stroll:
While Part Time Scientists were out there, on the intellectual front lines, talking about what it takes to challenge great problems---and overcome them, especially with decades of inertia & doubt weighing things down:
"We believe it is vitally important to the prosperity of humankind that the outward push to explore and exploit space does not falter under these circumstances, and we feel that the GLXP was created in a similar sentiment." -Part Time Scientists
While also talking about the camera technology they're building to show us the Moon like we've never seen it before---glorious HD:
Part Time Scientists' latest camera design. Eyes for the Moon.
It takes a lot to overcome challenges and get to the Moon---for good. And the teams are mustering it! Stay tuned...
I'll be rounding up these items every week, so keep an eye here for the latest developments from the new moon race!
For the full skinny on -everything- that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos. You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get cool PRIZE news in your inbox!
[May 1st- May 6th, 2014.]