GOOGLING FOSSETT Google is trying to inspire the private sector to do what taxpayers already pay for. You have until 2012, just more than four years, to have your rover travel the 238,900 miles to the moon’s surface and do its thing. Makes me wonder if it is going to turn the moon into a lunar wasteland from failed attempts. Send your hi-def video from your successful expedition here:

And in other Google news, Interweb surfers are using Google Earth to look for missing adventurer Steve Fossett. When Fossett’s personal plane didn’t return in early September, his billionaire buddy Richard Branson, of Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airlines fame, called Google to ask them if it was possible to update their satellite images of the area in Nevada where Fossett was believed to have gone missing. Google put in an urgent request with GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, the two companies Google pays about $7 per square kilometer for Google Earth’s maps (about $100,000). then stepped in and organized a volunteer squad of tens of thousands of everyday Web surfers in a matter of days to analyze 300 square-foot sections of the 6,000-square-mile search zone through their Mechanical Turk service. According to experts anything bigger than two to three feet tall will be visible from the sharp satellite imagery. As of print date, Fossett had not been found.

This is beyond cool (see below). Who knew architects had such a way with words?: