NASA launched an independent lander in mars on May 5, 2018. Along with the lander, it also launched two CubeSats which will the first ever spacecraft of its kind to be launched in the space.
Insight lands on the Martian surface on November 26, 2018. If everything goes as planned, the cube one will be transmitting information back to the NASA.
The CubeSats created history by being the first spacecraft to be sent in outer space. The mission itself costs 18.5 million USD. It was tested for communications and it aced all of the tests.
One of the scientists at the NASA also said that one of their goals has been fulfilled as they demonstrated how low-cost technology can be used to send CubeSats in outer space.
The CubeSat has never had to make any trajectory course corrections. So, for travelling to the red planet, several course corrections has t be made for the spacecraft. The CubeSats, also known as MarCO-A and MarCO-B have successfully completed their manoeuvre of trajectory correction. While MarCO-A was able to complete the manoeuvre without any hindrance, MarCO-B faced some problems due to the leakage of the thrusters valves. Though the fault has been monitored by engineers for the past few weeks, the leak can cause changes in the manoeuvre. Although, it is said that it can still perform a manoeuvre.
If everything goes as planned and the CubeSats reach the Mars successfully, it will transmit information back to earth about the landing and descent of insight on the red planet. The CubeSats have small radios with which it can receive only or receive and transmit data. With it, it can relay information back to the earth. The CubeSats making its way to the red planet will itself make a historical moment.
Therefore, if the mission is successful, it will open a new arena for the communication satellites and will benefit future missions to the planet.
There are also some interesting facts pertaining to the CubeSats. The MarCO-A and MarCO-B have been nicknamed as “Wall-E” and “Eva” after the famous animation movie “Wall-E”.
In the movie, the robot uses a fire extinguisher to fly off to space. The interesting fact is that MarCO also uses some kind of compressed gas to fly into space. The gas is also used in most of the fire extinguishers hence it has been adorably named so.