The InSight Mars mission was launched by NASA on May 5th to provide insight into the internal dynamics of the Red Planet. The probe launched effectively and is on its way to its target, Mars, however not many people are aware that the probe is not traveling by itself. NASA also tossed two tiny CubeSats into deep space along with InSight. Now, MarCO-B, one of the tiny CubeSats, has sent back home a magnificent image showing the Earth and the Moon, a so-called Earth-Moon duo.
The photo, captured by MarCO-B, also dubbed Wall-E CubeSat, reveals the Earth as a dim blue speck and the Moon, slightly far from our planet, as an even dimmer spot.
The picture was shot by the satellite with its fisheye camcorder and then hauled back to Earth as the ground control team mounted its long-range antenna successfully on May 9th.
Since the instrument is fundamental for communicating mission data to Earth, its operation was tested by a fast-paced photographing exercise.
“Consider it our tribute to Voyager,” stated the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory chief, Andy Klesh, who make reference to the similar Earth-Moon duo images sent back to Earth by the Voyager 1 probe, back in 1990.
CubeSats MarCO-A and MarCO-B (which captured the Earth-Moon Duo), will orbit Mars to show new methods of deep space communications
The CubeSats have been initially engineered for testing and research but are currently a crucial element of all important commercial missions, according to a press release issued by NASA.
As for MarCO-A and MarCO-B, they represent a premiere in the CubeSat’s world. Namely, they are the first of their kind to travel in deep space. Also, they’ve already established a new world’s record as they’ve become since may 8th the most distant satellites ever, as they’ve passed the 621,371 miles away from Earth checkpoint.
While the small CubeSats, MarCO-A and MarCO-B are not going to be the principal communications link with the InSight mission, NASA is confident that their capabilities can prove a useful array of technologies that might permit future deep space missions to conduct their individual data communications.