CubeSats flying to Mars accidentally took a photo of Earth and the Moon
The Voyager I probe in 1990 took what is perhaps the most famous photo of our planet, showing the Earth and the Moon. A similar photograph was taken a few days ago by one of the CubeSats sent together with the InSight mission to Mars.
In early May, together with the spacecraft and lander of the InSight mission, two small satellites of the CubeSat standard flew on their way to Mars. The task of MarCO-A (Mars Cube One) and MarCO-B, affectionately called by the teamoł operating the Eve and Wall-E missions, just like the two robots from the animated Pixar movie, will report on the Mars landing.
One of the CubeSatow, Wall-E, or rather MarCO-B, used a camera with a fisheye lens to take the first pictures. They aimed to verify that the directional antenna was correctly deployed. But the picture captured our planet along with the Moon.
The photo was taken on May 9 from a distance of more than a million kilometersow. Captured tiny specks floating in space. It’s the Earth and the Moon.
– CubeSats have never flown this far into space before, so this is a milestone. Both of our satellites are working properly – said Andy Klesh of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ktory built minisatellites. – The pictures taken are our tribute to mi Voyager mission – added by.
MarCO Cubestats are the first of their kind to be sent into far space. Most of such satellitesoin orbiting the Earth. Originally, the CubeSats were to serve students and teach them how to build satellitesow. Now they are the most frequently sent satellites into orbit. They provide data on almost every subject – from the trail of theoin shipping after environmental changes.
Both CubeSats will fly with the InSight mission to Mars. Their task will be to record the difficult landing maneuver on the Red Planet’s surface. The directional antenna under test is key to this endeavor. The photo confirmed that the antenna deployed correctly, but similar tests will still be conducted.
CubeSats will not serve as data relay to Earth. This task will be taken over by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe. But their flight to Mars is an important test for this technology. Future missions to distant worlds will be able to take their own relays with them in the form of just CubeSatow.
The Mars InSight mission is part of NASA’s Discovery program, which has been running since 1992. If everything poj goes according to plan, InSight will reach the target in time krot less than seven months, touching the surface of Mars on November 26. The mission is expected to last two Earth years.
The goal of the InSight mission is to conduct geophysical surveys on Mars, whichore provide groundbreaking information about the internal structure of the planet and its coolows of geologic activity. The mission will provide a better understanding of the evolution and formation of Mars, and in ogole of Earth-type planets. A seismometer aboard the lander will record events related to Mars interior activity, as well as meteorite fallsow to the planet‘s surface.