Google just announced that they will be putting a total of $30 million towards the first company or group to put a rover on the moon. According to SearchAnyWay.com’s blog, Google is forgoing investing in public agencies and instead attempting to promote space investments through public sources.
While I do not see the immediate benefit to Google, there is definitely a benefit to scientific research overall. Introducing a competitive atmosphere to a project often has great results. The projects are finished quicker and other innovations often stem from the process of working towards the final solution.