NASA to make aviation history with UAV mission on Mars

Life On Mars Can Be Found By Examining Iron Rich Rocks For Fatty Acids And Organic Debris

The image, which shows both the CubeSat's unfolded high-gain antenna at right and the Earth and its moon in the center, was taken by MarCO-B on May 9.

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.

If all goes according to plan, MarCO-A and -B will fly by Mars on November 26, the same day that InSight arrives at the Red Planet for its crucial entry, descent and landing (EDL) sequence.

The first photo captured by one of NASA's two Mars Cube One (MarCO) cubesats, which launched along with the agency's InSight lander on May 5, 2018. They are trailing along after Insight on their very own mission to test their design against the rigors of traveling all the way to the red planet.

"Cubesats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone", Klesh added.

Started in August 2013 as a technology development project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Mars Helicopter weighs under four pounds and its fuselage is about the size of a tennis ball. 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. As the instrument is critical for transmitting mission-related data back to Earth, its deployment was verified with quick image-taking exercise.

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The MarCO craft will undergo a long-distance health check within a few weeks of the Mars flyby, and then the mission will be over, team members have said.

By receiving MarCO-B's first snapshot of Earth, the space agency now has confirmation that the satellites have successfully deployed their high-gain antennas as well.

NASA's Mars Insight mission soaked up all the glory on launch day on May 5, but the lander had a couple of less-well-known companions. MarCO's job is to act as a kind of chaperone to InSight Lander as it approaches Mars. The lander - whose name is short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport" - will perform three different experiments to investigate Mars' internal structure and composition over its roughly two-Earth-year prime mission.

In announcing NASA's plans with regard to flying an electric helicopter on Mars, Bridenstine said that "the idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling", and also added that the Mars Helicopter "holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars".

Until then, however, the trailblazing CubeSats have a long way to go.

In 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 space probe was instructed to take one final image of Earth before it left the Solar System and entered interstellar space, at the request of renowned astronomer and author Carl Sagan.

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