One of NASA’s MarCo CubeSats that launched with the Insight Mars lander on May 5 has sent a photo of planet earth to NASA. The CubeSats called MarCo-A and MarCo-B also called Eva, and Wall-E respectively are trendsetters. They are trendsetters because they are the first CubeSats that have ventured into deep space.
The photo taken by Wall-E shows the earth as a small blue dot and the moon also as a faint dot. This image is similar to the one snapped in 1990 by the Voyager 1. NASA was a little bit nervous about the success of the CubeSats since this is the first attempt.
The photo taken by Wall-E indicates that the CubeSat has been able to unfold its antenna. The antenna is an instrument if the CubeSat will communicate to earth.
The Insight Mars lander along with the CubeSats launched aboard a United Launch Alliance rocket called the Atlas V 401 rocket. The launch happened at 7:05 am EDT from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The lander will delve into the interior of Mars. The purpose of the mission is to learn more about Mar’s interior. According to scientists, more knowledge about the Red planet will help them to understand the planets better. Discoveries made from this mission will help to know how planets were created.
Also, scientists want to understand planet earth better by studying Mars. One of the essential observations NASA expects from the lander is the study of quakes on Mars. The shocks are now popularly called Marsquakes.
Although the CubeSats launched along with the Insight lander, they are not working with the lander. The MarCo’s are on a test to check whether spacecraft as small as MarCo A and B can communicate from deep space to earth. They will also serve as a test to see if they can communicate to earth in real time.
The CubeSats built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are working as expected. Even though it is too early to state that they are successful, we can say that they are working just as scientists expect.
NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, in his speech during the launch said that this launch is historic since they are launching CubeSats into deep space. That is not the only reason why he considered the launch a historic one; he also touched on the fact that this mission is the first interplanetary mission to launch from the West Coast.