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Penn Staters Compete in Google Lunar Competition

by on February 17, 2011 5:22 PM

A team from Penn State is competing against 28 others nationwide to land a vehicle on the moon and record high-resolution lunar images, the university announced today.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE Competition has challenged engineers and scientists to create privately financed spacecraft that can land on the moon and perform several specific exploration and imaging jobs there.

Teams have until Dec. 31, 2015, to complete the task. The first whose spacecraft successfully explores at least two lunar locations a third of a mile apart will win the grand prize: $20 million, according to Penn State. The runner-up team will win $5 million.

Penn State's team, known as the Penn State Lunar Lion team, brings together engineers and scientists from across the university, according to a university news release. Its lunar lander "will be launched by a commercial launch service," it reads.

"From high above Earth, the lander will cruise for five days on its way to the moon, where the lander will touch down," it goes on. "After capturing panoramic images and video of the area around the landing zone and transmitting these images to Earth, the Lunar Lion will travel at least a third of a mile to another landing location and repeat the imaging and transmission task."

Most funding for Penn State's effort will come from philanthropy, corporate sponsors and scientific partners in the private sector, according to the university.

Space systems engineer Michael V. Paul is the leader of the Penn State team. More information is posted at http://lunarlion.psu.edu and http://www.googlelunarxprize.org.

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