Space exploration isn't what it used to be. Welcome to the 21st century.

It's been 50 years since man walked on the moon, opening the door to future space exploration and expanding the knowledge of our vast universe. Since then, our curiosity and interest in our nearest celestial neighbor have not waned.

Students from Colorado are joining with others from around the world on a project called the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE). It's a space mission led by NASA's New York and Colorado Space Grant Consortia. The project hopes to send 500 spacecraft, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, to the moon by  2023.

The "LunaSats",  as they are called, will cost less than $200 each, will be designed and built by students, and will collect data on conditions on the surface of the moon. A greater understanding of the moon environment could be instrumental in paving the way to future manned lunar visits.

According to Mason Peck, a professor at Cornell University, these tiny spacecraft have been in development for over a decade and have actually flown in low Earth orbit. The idea of sending these space explorers to the moon is not as far-fetched as it might seem.

The Colorado Space Grant Consortium is based at the University of Colorado Boulder, and groups of high school and college students can apply to get involved with GLEE in December. Meanwhile, support for the project is being sought from universities and private companies around the world.

[SPACE GRANT]