…China, India, and Japan, are looking to put unmanned probes on the lunar surface. But more unprecedented are the 26 teams currently racing to win the Google Lunar X Prize—a contest that will award $20 million to the first private company to land a robot on the lunar surface…
NASA is asking anyone that makes it to the lunar surface to keep their landing at least 1.2 miles away from any Apollo site and about 1,600 feet from the five Ranger impact sites. The distance should keep the old equipment safe from a terrible accident or collision. It will also would put the new equipment “over the lunar horizon” relative to the relics, and prevent any moon dust—known to be a highly abrasive material—from sandblasting NASA’s old machines.
The Apollo 11 and 17 sites—the first and last places visited by man—are singled out in particular for extra care and respect. Robots are prohibited from visiting both sites and are requested to remain outside a large radius (250 feet for Apollo 11 and 740 feet for Apollo 17) to prevent a stray rover from accidentally harming hardware or erasing any footprints.
“Only one misstep could forever damage this priceless human treasure” … >continue<