NASA has made a real breakthrough in the CubeSats world with its 2 Mars CubeSats, MarCo A and MarCo B, which are set to follow up the Mars InSight mission. This weekend, the two NASA MarCo CubeSats made their first deep space maneuvers to set course to Mars, according to Phys.org.
NASA’s Mars CubeSats mission
The couple of CubeSats that are part of the Mars Cube One (MarCO) mission have both been deployed on May 5th, together with the NASA InSight mission, and are set to reach the Red Planet on November 26th. These two satellites have been created in order to follow InSight on its journey to Mars, with the objective of retransmitting data regarding InSight as it enters the Mars’ atmosphere and lands.
According to NASA, MarCo CubeSats weren’t meant to gather any scientific data but only to experiment the new technology for miniaturized communication space probes, a technology that can be used in the future for sending more CubeSats to other planets.
“Our broader goal was to demonstrate how low-cost CubeSat technology can be used in deep space for the first time. With both MarCo CubeSats on their way to Mars, they’ve already traveled further than any CubeSat before them,” explained John Baker from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
NASA MarCo CubeSats made their first deep space maneuvers to set course to Mars
In the last couple of weeks, the CubeSats have been igniting their thrusters to steer them towards Mars.
This procedure, called trajectory correction maneuvering, permits a spaceship to fine-tune its course toward its target. Both NASA’s Mars CubeSats, MarCo A and MarCo B, have succeeded in executing this specific maneuver which has also been carried out by the NASA’s InSight spacecraft on May 22nd.
This weekend, the two CubeSats made their last fine-tune deep space maneuvers to set course to Mars.
While MarCo A adjusted its path to Mars relatively smoothly, MarCo B had some unexpected setbacks. The latter’s maneuverability was hampered by a leaky thrust valve that NASA engineers are tracking since a couple of weeks ago. However, this situation has not stop MarCo B to set its course but the problem affects the sat’s fine-tune maneuverability, so a few weeks might be required for MarCo B to refine its adjustings in conformity with the new stimuli.