NASA is sending a tiny helicopter to Mars

NASA is sending a tiny helicopter to Mars

Nasa chose to release the image taken by the minuscule satellites in homage to one of the space exploration programmes most famous predecessors, the Voyager missions.

Almost 30 years after Voyager 1 sent back to Earth a photo of humanity's home planet, taken from several billion miles away, the two CubeSats, nicknamed by NASA engineers Wall-E and Eva, did the same, but from a distance of only 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers). The satellite took the shot using its fisheye camera and beamed it back to Earth after the ground-control team properly unfolded its high-gain antenna on May 9. However, Mars Cube One is the first CubeSat created to operate in deep space.

Capturing the Earth and the moon was a fortunate coincidence as the image was only meant to see if the antennae had deployed correctly. Reading about them blew my mind a bit: They use solar panels for power, and an antenna that will transmit any data they take directly to Earth.

"Consider it our homage to Voyager", Andy Klesh, MarCO's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement, which also shows the CubeSat photograph of the Earth-Moon duo.

Nasa made a decision to release the image taken by the miniature satellites in homage to one of the space exploration programmes most famous predecessors, the Voyager mission. "CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone". "Both our Cubesats are healthy and functioning properly". They are trailing along after Insight on their very own mission to test their design against the rigors of traveling all the way to the red planet. The tiny CubeSat, roughly the size of a briefcase, took the snapshot after the twin satellites had reached a record-distance of 621,371 miles from Earth on the previous day, NASA reveals.

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Most never go beyond the orbit of Earth, they generally stay below 497 miles (800 kilometres) above the planet. Originally developed to teach university students about satellites, these modular mini-satellites are now a major commercial technology, providing data on everything from shipping routes to environmental changes.

Just like the "marscopter" that the space agency is planning to launch on the upcoming Mars 2020 mission, the MarCO satellites represent a demonstration technology aimed to test CubeSat capabilities on an alien planet, as well as their resistance to the extreme radiation of deep space.

InSight will attempt to land on Mars on November 26. JPL also leads the InSight mission.

In over five decades of robotic exploration, NASA has sent orbiters, landers, rovers and even Cubesats to Mars. The shadowing CubeSats are tasked with transmitting data on how InSight is doing as it makes the challenging descent to the surface through the thin atmosphere of Mars.

This artist's concept shows a close-up of NASA's Mars 2020 rover studying an outcrop.

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