NASA’s MarCO Mission Received ‘Small Satellite Mission of the Year’ Award

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On August 11th, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awarded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the ‘Small Satellite Mission of the Year’ for their MarCO (Mars Cube One) satellites.

The Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellites are two probes the size of a briefcase that successfully traveled to another planet. They have been created by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The novelty of these two cube-like satellites is that they have opened the gates to other bold inventions and technologies that could make the future space missions more accessible and more proficient.

WALL-E and EVE are the names the two Cube One satellites received from the team of researchers of JPL. WALL-E and EVE have started their mission alongside NASA’s InSight lander in May 2018.

‘Small Satellite Mission of the Year’ Award Goes To NASA’s MarCO Satellites

The two CubeSats followed the lander as it descended on Mars on November 26th, 2018, and supervised the landing by helping the lander to send signals back to the astronomers managing the mission from Earth.

InSight, short for the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a mission that consists of a robotic lander. The aim of InSight is to examine the deep interior of Mars with the help of a variety of instruments, such as seismometers, heat probes, Laser RetroReflector, among others. It also has the mission to create 3D models of the Red Planet’s interior and measure the internal heatflow in order to examine the planet’s early geological evolution.

Both MarCO satellites had different missions. WALL-E captured beautiful images of Mars; at the same time, EVE took care of some radio science. The innovative thing about the two CubeSats is that the costs of both the satellites and the technologies they carried were a lot lower than it would have been if other satellites were used.


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