Wednesday, September 12, 2007

1st Google Moon, then Sky, now X-PRIZE?

posted by: Andrew R. Harris Google is, and has been for at least a decade, licensing images and data (among others things) in huge quantities. In the process, compiling massive amounts of information from all aspects of the human experience and presenting them in apps and databases that are excruciatingly usable. Their enterprises have been lauded for there intuitive, and user friendly interfaces. Now the super corp. has a new button for that marvel of modern satellite imagery, Google Earth. It’s a sweet addition... called Google Sky featuring a stitched together compilation of space imagery from observatories all over the world. The Hubble space telescope is featured prominently here (finally it’s good for something besides eating money) it's deep space images are incredibly detailed and beautiful. Google Sky images make previously scattered information now easily accessible to anyone who wants to download the free application. A pay version, Google Earth Plus is available for map heads. The 20 dollar pack lets you connect Google Earth with your GPS for real time location display or import any geographically linked data and display it in the app.; $400 gets you pro, this upgrade allows for faster connection speeds, higher res printing, and leasing rights for business presentations and such (among other things).
I recently spoke with an astrophysicist from Columbia University who informed me that astronomers around the world will be accessing and exchanging data directly with Google making Google integral in the pursuit of a greater understanding of the universe around us. Google Sky, just as in Google Earth, will also include regular Joe's photos of the night sky, Google hopes that this open source data collection will yield astronomical discoveries from unlikely sources, mainly folks like you and I. This seems to be a doctrine of sort for the folks at Google who have made no secret of there ambitions in space extrapolation. Now Google is offering a $30 Million incentive with the Lunar X-PRIZE for the first privately funded and launched moon rocket. The rocket must carry a robot up to the moon preform some Google designated tasks and relay data back, in order for the prize to be claimed. This type of corporate sponsored innovation has the inherent benefit of incubating industry leaders through condensed prize-driven competition rather than open market driven competition. Google's initiative will result in accelerated innovation.

Official Google Blog: Fly me to the moon

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