Fly Google to the moon, win $20 million

Google's sponsering a new X Prize, and this one has its sights set a bit higher than suborbital. The new contest wants competitors to send a robotic rover to the moon and beam back a gigabyte of data -- including pictures and video -- of the trip. The rover also has to travel 1,312 feet across the surface of the moon. Contest entrants are required to pony up for the launch vehicle themselves, by building it from scratch or contracting with an existing company; like the last X Prize there's no government freeloading to be had here. If somebody is successful in this feat by 2012 they'll win the $20 million, while $5 million goes to second place, and another $5 million bonus goes to teams able to surpass the minum requirements. The prize drops to $15 million after 2012 and expires in 2014 if nobody manages to win by then. More details will be announced at the WIRED Nextfest in LA this weekend.