Jul 22, 2009

Paint Your Ad Message on the Moon with Shadows

This video by MoonPublicity.com shows a concept for displaying advertising messages on the Moon's surface with the imprints created by a rover with special wheels using the patented Shadow Shaping Technology.

The MoonPublicity.com business model is best summarised by this paragraph on one of the pages of their website:

"Let’s suppose it would cost a billion dollars to create and send a fleet of Shadow Shaping robots to the moon, the project would pay for itself in less than 3 years after completion. Over the next 50 years it would generate 18 billion dollars worth of advertising. And since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, the image could last for thousands of years."

I'm not sure how they will deal with all the craters, not to mention the lunar conservationists!

See also the interesting comments on the Gizmodo article about this project.

Jul 20, 2009

Apollo 11 - 40 years ago today - man's first step on the Moon

Today it was 40 years ago that Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon. This event changed not only the face of history but also what man believed was possible to achieve.

In honour of this day here's a video of the actual event.

Jul 18, 2009

Apollo 11 Lander Photograph from Lunar Orbit

A lonely shadow cast across the barren surface of the Moon is evidence of humanity's greatest space adventure. This photo taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) (currently orbiting the Moon) shows the Apollo 11 landing site, "Tranquility Base".

The Apollo 11 lander descent stage is the bright spot with angular features at the left end of the elongated shadow. This man-made creation was left on the Moon when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin departed in the Apollo 11 ascent stage on the 21st of July 1969 after spending 21.6 hours on the surface.

The large crater to the right of the lander is also clearly identifiable in an image taken on the Moon's surface by Armstrong (below).

More images including other the Apollo landing sites are available at NASA's LRO Page.

Jul 16, 2009

Study Predicts $1.5 Billion Market for Commercial Lunar Services over Next Decade

PRESS RELEASE: Thursday, July 16, 2009
Source: X Prize Foundation

Playa Vista, CA (July 16, 2009) – A study performed by the Futron Corporation, an aerospace consultancy based in Bethesda, MD, predicts that companies such as those competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will be able to address a market in excess of $1 billion over the course of the next decade. The results of the study resonate with the expectations of the X PRIZE Foundation, which conducts the $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch privately funded spacecraft capable of exploring the lunar surface. The market projection demonstrates the breadth of commercial opportunities that companies are likely to pursue either during or after the conclusion of their Google Lunar X PRIZE missions.

The study, which involved a detailed examination of the 19 teams already registered in the competition, as well as a robust analysis of potential lines of business, identified six key market areas: hardware sales to the worldwide government sector, services provided to the government sector, products provided to the commercial sector, entertainment, sponsorship, and technology sales and licensing. Taken together, the study projects the value of these markets to be between $1 - $1.56 billion within the next decade. Additionally, some Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors have set their sights on additional market sectors that fell outside of the scope of the Futron report, which could result in an even higher total market size.

The breadth and the size of these projected markets are attributes of a new era of lunar exploration quite different from the Apollo era. “The glories of the first Moon race were accomplished with only two real developers and two real customers—the national space programs of the United States and of the Soviet Union,” said William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation. “Now, we’re entering a new paradigm – Moon 2.0 – that features an enormous variety of innovators each trying to serve a wide range of customers. National space programs such as NASA’s will certainly benefit, but so will academia, the general public, and the economies of those nations where teams step up to meet the challenges of lunar exploration. That breadth of impact will make Moon 2.0 much more sustainable and longer lasting than the first era of lunar exploration”

"We examined a wide range of markets that teams could address, both those that exist today and those that could be enabled by low-cost commercial lunar exploration," said Jeff Foust, a senior analyst with the Futron Corporation. "If one or more teams are able to win this prize competition, they will be able to serve markets potentially far larger than the prize purse."

For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE and the teams currently registered in the competition, please visit http://www.googlelunarxprize.org. High resolution photographs, video and other team materials are available upon request.

The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented international competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to the Earth. The Grand Prize is $20 million until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15 million until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation. For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE, please visit www.googlelunarxprize.org.

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured the world’s attention when the Burt Rutan-led team, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital spaceflight. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation, with the support of its partner, BT Global Services, is creating prizes in Space and Ocean Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy and Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as a leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.

Jul 14, 2009

Steve Allen

Steve Allen is the Team Leader of White Label Space.

Steve brings his strong knowledge of the media industry to the White Label Space effort, helping the team to communicate its vision and progress to future sponsors & investors. He is an avid space technology enthusiast that also has an in depth knowledge of new media, social media, PR & outreach. His professional background is in project management, media distribution & asset management.

Currently Steve is a director at Clearer Partners Ltd, a specialised media startup, creating products and helping companies develop and deliver technologies and strategies by providing hands-on rapid prototyping and bespoke development.

Formerly Steve worked for the BBC, leading the Labs group of the BBC's Digital Media Initiative (DMI) change program, researching ways to give the British license fee payers better value for money & unlock the potential that the massive BBC archive holds.

Prior to the BBC Steve was a Director of Joost Technologies, an Internet start up that was the first company to bring true high quality video via secure P2P & was also the first company to partner with many of the major global content providers. Joost later refocused on lowering the barrier of entry to the platform and becoming an end-to-end white label video distribution service provider. Steve's responsibilities at Joost were to manage Transcoding & Archiving operations, Video R&D, Business Support & End User Support teams.

Valve Controllers, Data Compression and Altimeters

Our open source partner Lunar Numbat is dedicated to developing low-cost solutions for mission-critical systems in our GLXP mission. Here are three specific projects they are currently investigating:

Valve Controller

A key component in a lunar lander is the valve that controls the throttle setting of the engine used for the descent to the lunar surface. Lunar Numbat has started developing a design for an Arduino board to communicate with the electric motor and the valve position sensor.

Lunar Numbat plans to test its new valve controller design on AUSROC 2.5, a sounding rocket currently being developed by the Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI). The valve, gear assembly and electric motor are shown in the picture.

The Arduino board will run embedded C++ software and use a modular event driven protocol called Aiko. Aiko embodies the embedded controller and device side of a modular framework and generic event-driven communications protocol. There will also be a host-side design and implementation of that protocol. The valve controller will interface with the rest of the control system via a CAN bus.

Video Compression

Lunar Numbat is working on an idea to use JPEG2000 for rapid on-the-fly video compression. JPEG2000 offers certain advantages compared to other data formats in that it makes it possible to compress the data stream by dropping layers. Lunar Numbat envisions an approach based on concurrent data prioritization, optimized be a 'task based' approach.

Already Lunar Numbat has found in experiments have shown that a 3MB image can have its sized reduced by a factor of four in just half a second. In the near future Lunar Numbat will post an example of the video compression to the internet.

Radar Altimeter

The Chandryaan-1 Moon Impact Probe (MIP) inspired Lunar Numbat to look into developing a simple radar altimeter based on commercial technologies. The MIP featured a Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave radar altimeter capable of measuring the altitudes up to about 5km above the lunar surface.

Lunar Numbat aims to use software defined radio technology to implement its solution and hopes to test the altimeter on a cheap flying vehicle such as a balloon or remote control aircraft.

About Lunar Numbat

Lunar Numbat is a distributed organization based in Australa and New Zealand, which was created to develop open source hardware and software solutions for the White Label Space GLXP team. A number of Lunar Numbat members are also members of the Melbourne-based Connected Community HackerSpace, another more general open source group, which allows Lunar Numbat to build upon experience from hardware and software developed for non-space applications.

Jul 8, 2009

Relax to a lunar flyover

Hard day at work?

Turn on some classical music, sit back and watch this amazing footage from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.