German scientists hope to see their home-made, low-cost, robot examining the moon in the near future while they work on ways to lower risks of malfunctioning. Edward Baran reports.
STORY: Space travel needn't cost the earth -- so say the German scientists hoping to send this home-made rover to the moon. The challenge is to place the robot on the moon's surface and explore at least 500 metres while transmitting high definition video and images. The vehicle, designed by technology company Part Time Scientists, has an adjustable solar panel which captures sunlight and directs it to a lithium-ion battery. All for just 30 million dollars -- a snip compared to the cheapest NASA mission so far which cost 250 million. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PART TIME SCIENTISTS CEO AND FOUNDER, ROBERT BOEHME, SAYING: "The goal that we have is to have a slimmed down miniaturised mission profile and that all fits into a satellite class launch vehicle. So in the end, the entire mission should cost less than 30 million euro." The robot was created to compete for the Google Lunar XPRISE, a competition that challenges engineers globally to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. If successful it will be launched on board a rocket and travel more than 380,000 kilometres to the moon. But its creators admit there are still risks ahead, as unexpected problems related to technology not specifically designed for use in space could still arise. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PART TIME SCIENTISTS CEO AND FOUNDER, ROBERT BOEHME, SAYING: "The costs are quite cut down already. Using technology which is kind of not intended to send something to the moon is always very risky, so we have to really slim down everything." The fifteen teams taking part in the competition now have six months left to secure a contract for their launch into space.