Balloons launched for DARPA Network Challenge/Photo courtesy of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Balloons launched for DARPA Network Challenge Photo courtesy of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Beginning Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 giant red balloons will be anchored in different locations across the continental U.S. Finding and submitting the location of the 8-foot inflatables is the aim of the DARPA Network Challenge.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said the challenge is designed to "explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems."

The contest is open to any person of any age and nationality, excluding federal government employees. The first person or team to submit the correct longitude and latitude coordinates for all 10 balloons will win the $40,000 prize. According to DARPA, the balloons will be visible only during daylight hours. All 10 balloons also will be visible from nearby roads. The deadline for submitting coordinates is 12:00 pm ET on Dec. 14, 2009.

For more information, visit the DARPA Network Challenge site.