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X Prize announces $2 million competition to measure ocean acidification

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize will award the developers of a cheap and effective pH sensor to measure ocean acidification levels.

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The prestigious X Prize competition has announced a new award geared at abating ocean acidification. The process that has been catastrophic to the world's coral, which is seen here in a nursery in the Caribbean coral reef restoration program.

Kemit-Amon Lewis/The Nature Conservancy/AP

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The prestigious X Prize Foundation has announced a new competition geared at tackling ocean acidification, which has in recent years taken a hard hit at some of the ocean’s hardest-bodied animals.

The 22-month competition, slated to open for submissions at the beginning of 2014, carries a total purse prize of $2 million for the developers of a pH sensor capable of measuring the acidification of the world’s oceans, a poorly understood process visible in deteriorating coral reefs and struggling oyster populations.

Called the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize, the award is the latest multimillion dollar venture from the X Prize Foundation, the fund made famous as a catalyst for private spaceflight. In 2004, the foundation awarded $10 million to aerospace company Scaled Composites for the commercial spacecraft prototype that now underpins Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, which boomed closer to market-readiness last week with another supersonic test flight.

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