What I want is to be able to build a cheap robot with a camera that could go to the Moon or Mars and wander around taking pictures, the Moon would be preferable. My dinky little webcam that I got for $12 has far better picture quality than the expensive cameras they brought with them during Apollo.
There hasn't been a single picture taken from the surface of the moon in almost 40 years.
Radio signals can be heard from quite a distance, like Voyager 1, for example.
A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), weighs no more than one kilogram, and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf electronics components. Beginning in 1999, California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to help universities worldwide to perform space science and exploration.
My approach is to figure out if it's even possible for me to build a robot that will work there, then figure out the cheapest way to get it there.I know people have put Arduinos on high altitude balloons, but they're still in the Earth's magnetosphere (unless they were near the poles) and so wouldn't have to deal with radiation as much.
Not to burst your bubble, but you're not going to get a robot into orbit, let alone the moon. There is a reason why space is expensive - it's difficult to get there.
I have a simple question regarding your reasoning about cooling.You say that cooling the micro-controller would be a major issue, because there is "no air to take the heat away so much of it just stays in the object which heats up". So why then attaching anything to the object (heat sink) would change the situation at all? Any why, in the case of fluid cooling, the fluid would freeze, but the micro-controller would just build up heat?
And if he has a spare 40 thousand dollars or so he can launch with cubesat, into a tumbling low earth orbit. This isn't the moon. The moon would cost hundreds of millions to reach, and anything that goes there will NOT be offering piggyback rides.
It's just not achievable by private enthusiasts, certainly ones who ask about the basics here. Lofty goals are admirable, but we shouldn't sit here and investigate the possibility of sending a lander to the moon using an arduino, because it isn't possible.
Ham radio people have been putting amateur satellites in space for several decades. Check this out, I am sure there is a lot info http://www.amsat.org/