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Google Lunar XPrize: Testing Astrobotic's rover on the rocks (pictures)

The Google Lunar XPrize is the next great space race, with a $30 million purse offered to commercial teams. Check out Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic's test, which won the team $750,000.

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Tim Stevens
Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
1 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

Welcome to the moon -- or a test version of it used by Google Lunar XPrize Milestone candidate Team Astrobotic.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
2 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

This is a representation of the team's lunar lander, with a prototype of the lunar rover sitting in the background.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
3 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

No, the rover is not studying for an attempt at challenging Deep Blue at chess. This is a high-contrast screen for testing the high-definition stereo cameras on board.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
4 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar Xprize Astrobotic Test

The rover currently uses a Wi-Fi connection back to the lander, which then repeats the signal back to the base station on Earth -- which for this test was only about 30 feet away.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
5 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar Xprize Astrobotic Test

A look at the front of the rover, with its eyes on the prize.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
6 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar Xprize Astrobotic Test

Prototype wheels, which had previous lives as cake tins.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
7 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

The spheres represent fuel tanks, used for powering the thrusters, while the solar panels will power the electrical systems.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
8 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

Testing on an active rock quarry means protective headgear is required.

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test
9 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

Here, a Google Lunar XPrize judge verifies the quality of the returned footage.

Google Lunar Xprize Astrobotic Test
10 of 10 Tim Stevens/CNET

Google Lunar XPrize Astrobotic Test

The entire Astrobotic team, celebrating a successful test.

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