In conjunction with that announcement, Google released a new version of Google Moon, the company's browser-based moon viewer.
The Space Act Agreement signed by Google and NASA in 2005 isn't just about a plum parking space for the Boeing 767-200 owned by Google's co-founders. It's also about making space more universally accessible.
Alan Eustace, senior VP of engineering at Google, on Thursday announced that Google is sponsoring the Lunar X-Prize, which will award a total of $30 million to teams competing to land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon.
"Why does Google love space?" Eustace asked in a post on the Google blog. "Well, for one thing, we just think it's cool. More seriously, space exploration has a remarkable history of producing technological breakthroughs, from ablative heat shields and asteroid mining to invisible braces and Tang; the X-Prize, too, could lead to important developments in robotic space exploration, a whole host of new space-age materials, precision landing control technology, and who knows what else."
"The Google Lunar X-Prize seeks to create a global private race to the Moon that excites and involves people around the world and accelerates space exploration for the benefit of all humanity," said X-Prize founder Peter H. Diamandis in a statement. "The use of space has dramatically enhanced the quality of life and may ultimately lead to solutions to some of the most pressing environmental problems that we face on Earth -- energy independence and climate change."
In conjunction with that announcement, Google released a new version of Google Moon, the company's browser-based moon viewer. Taking a page from Google Maps, the new Google Moon offers a Street View option. Street View on the moon offers no streets to view and invades no one's privacy, as a few Google Maps Street View pictures did, but it's still a nice touch.
Eustace said that Google hopes its space initiatives will renew public interest in math, engineering, and computer science. To satisfy curiosity in matters terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, Google also offers Google Earth, Google Mars, and Google Sky.
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Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of October 9, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."