The two CubeSats that launched along with the Insight Mars lander have communicated to Earth. The satellites called MarCOs and are nicknamed WALL-E and Eva (launched on Saturday, May 5 at the Vandenberg Air Force base. NASA launched the CubeSats as a test to check if CubeSats could communicate from other planets.
The Atlas V rocket of the United Launch Alliance was the launch vehicle that launched the Mars lander and the CubeSats.
This is the first time NASA is launching a CubeSat to another planet. The CubeSats sent radio signals on Saturday afternoon. NASA officials are glad that they have received the signals. They consider this a sign that Wall E and Eva are doing well.
Before the launch of the CubeSats along with the lander, NASA explained that the two CubeSats might not survive the harsh conditions that the deep space will expose them. According to NASA, the Insight lander will land on Mars on November 26, and on that same day the CubeSats will also fly past the red planet.
The CubeSats will capture the entire process; the lander’s entry to Mars, its descent, and its landing. NASA stated that the role of Wall E and Eva in communication to earth is that paramount. There is the orbiter that will do the primary task of transporting information from the lander to earth.
The CubeSats costs $18.5 million, and there are questions as to why NASA would invest in these CubeSats when they do not play a vital role in the communication to earth. The CubeSats were launched to test whether CubeSat can function well in other planets. Over the years, CubeSats have explored the earth but have never launched into deep space.
If these CubeSats succeed in communicating to earth as planned, more of the CubeSats will launch along with subsequent missions. According to NASA, the CubeSats are cheaper to operate. They will also relay data in real time unlike other methods of communication.
The designers named the CubeSats after two robots that featured in a film titled Wall-E. The movie appeared in cinemas in 2008.
The MarCo mission will explore the core of Mars. Scientists are of the opinion that they would get more insight into the planet earth using the data they have gathered from Mars.
NASA is confident that the intensive tests ran on these CubeSats will make them resistant enough to survive the conditions in deep space.