‘Moon project got 1,600 ideas from youngsters globally’
TeamIndus, the only entity from India shortlisted by Google for sending a robot to the moon, has received a string of interesting project ideas like ‘how can one get clean drinking water on the moon or grow bacteria in the lunar environment?’ from youngsters across the world. Some have even suggested exploring whether life-pods with DNA of all living things on earth can be stored on the moon.
TeamIndus’ spacecraft, if selected in the Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition, is to be launched next year. It will be the first time that a privately-funded entity will make a lunar landing. “The idea of Lab2Moon was to bring in ideas for sustainable living that will have benefits both on earth and beyond. We have been frankly stunned by the sheer quality of thinking that has gone into some of the ideas that have come in,” Rahul Narayan, Fleet Commander of TeamIndus, told PTI.
The company was surprised by the number of entries from outside the metros - from cities as varied as Bhatinda, Bhubaneswar and Calicut, he added. Narayan said this shows that the next generation of science, both in India and globally, “is alive and kicking”.
“We have received over 1,600 registrations. Youngsters from over 50 cities around the world, from countries like Peru to Germany to Mexico to all around India have sent in their ideas for experiments which they would like to create and send aboard the TeamIndus spacecraft scheduled to launch in the end of 2017,” he said.
TeamIndus started the Lab2Moon competition in June this year to invite people under 25 years to design and build a project that would want to send to the moon. It also partnered with Internshala, an internship platform, to spread the word of Lab2Moon across campuses in India. Teams of up to three members were required to write a 300-word concept note of their project and upload a 2-minute video explaining why it should go to the Moon.
TeamIndus will now shortlist 20 projects - out of the 1,600 received - by September 20. The entries will then get about 4.5 months to develop a working prototype of their project by February 2017.
The selected 20 will present that to a jury of globally renowned scientists and technologists including K Kasturirangan (former ISRO Chairman), Alain Bensoussan (Former President of Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES - the French Space Agency) and Joe Pelton, former Dean of the International Space University (ISU).
TeamIndus had won a USD 1 million milestone prize placing it in the top 3 teams globally in the competition. The USD 30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE mandates that a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at least 500 metres and transmits HD video and images back to earth. Over 85 engineers, including 15 former ISRO scientists, are helping TeamIndus’ entry in terms of design and development from its headquarters in Bangalore.