NASA CubeSats beam back 'classic portrait' of Earth and Moon

Mindy Sparks
May 17, 2018

NASA shared the image on Tuesday. 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. In the 2008 film "Wall-E", the titular robot uses a fire extinguisher to zoom around in space while his friend Eva looks on.

Now, we have another pale blue dot image, this one captured by a tiny CubeSat spacecraft, one of a pair that's shadowing NASA's InSight lander to Mars.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft took a classic portrait of Earth - the famous Pale Blue Dot image - from several billion miles away in 1990.

As a bonus, it captured Earth and its moon as tiny specks floating in space.

"Consider it our homage to Voyager", Andy Klesh, MarCO's chief engineer at NASA-JPL, said in a press release about the image.

"MarCO-A and B are our first and second interplanetary CubeSats created to monitor InSight for a short period around landing, if the MarCO pair makes it to Mars", said Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone". "Both our Cubesats are healthy and functioning properly". The beauty of this is that we may not even know yet what they can do. The space agency also launched two tiny CubeSats with InSight, one of which has returned a glorious photograph of our planet Earth and its moon.

Most never go beyond the orbit of Earth, they generally stay below 497 miles (800 kilometres) above the planet.

CubeSat looks back at Earth
NASA satellite snaps adorable Earth portrait on way to Mars

They were originally developed to teach university students about satellites, CubeSats are now a major commercial technology, providing data on everything from shipping routes to environmental changes.

The InSight Mars mission was launched by NASA on May 5th to provide insight into the internal dynamics of the Red Planet.

NASA has announced that a small, autonomous helicopter will be launched with the agency's upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission.

The MarCO-B CubeSat, known by the cute nickname "Wall-E", snapped a photo on May 9 as proof it was able to properly unfold its high-gain antenna, which it'll need to communicate from Mars. The shadowing CubeSats are tasked with transmitting data on how InSight is doing as it makes the challenging descent to the surface through the thin atmosphere of Mars. "However, these CubeSat missions are not needed for InSight's mission success". Really any pictures of Mars or other planets probably wouldn't be worth looking at twice - these are utility cameras with fisheye lenses, not the special instruments that orbiters use to get those great planetary shots.

NASA's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said, "The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery and exploration missions to Mars".

Later this month, the MarCOs will attempt the first trajectory correction maneuvers ever performed by CubeSats.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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