MarCO CubeSats Worked as Planned During InSight Mars Landing

Pablo Tucker
December 2, 2018

On 26 November, NASA's InSight lander, created to reveal the mysteries of Mars's interior, descended from space to the surface of Mars.

The Natural Science Club gave the CSC campus and Chadron community the opportunity to witness the NASA InSight Mission landing on Mars at the Landing Party, Monday, at CSC's Planetarium. "In addition, we want to find out how the interior of Mars developed, whether it still possesses a hot molten core and what makes Earth so special by comparison".

An article in the New York Times said InSight has been journeying to Mars for the past six months and will include a seismometer and a heat probe.

MarCO CubeSats Worked as Planned During InSight Mars Landing

NASA has launched its InSight in May of this year.

InSight will operate on the surface for one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days, or sols, until November 24, 2020.

The landing signal was relayed to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, via NASA's two small experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, which launched on the same rocket as InSight and followed the lander to Mars.

Now, the two satellites are floating off farther into deep space, the mission to has come to an end. "It's given them valuable experience on every facet of building, testing and operating a spacecraft in deep space".

"An ideal location for our Mars mole would be one that is as sandy as possible and does not contain any rocks", HP3 operations manager Christian Krause said. Since landing, it has taken two photos and sent them back as postcards to Earth, showing off its new home.

This is why the information InSight sends back about its landing site is crucial. Over the next 3 months, InSight's scientists will now slowly place both instruments on the surface, with science operations expected to begin by March 2019.

And late Monday, mission scientists were able to confirm that the spacecraft's twin 7-foot-wide solar arrays have unfurled. Since the lander does not need much power to operate, the low 600-700 W provided by them because of the weaker sunlight on Mars is sufficient to operate the instruments on the lander. "To be able to be a part of it, even in a small way even, is really kind of incredible".

InSight will begin to collect science data within the first week after landing.

NASA said, "This image was taken at about 12:10 p.m. PST (3:10 p.m. EST) while MarCO-B was flying away from the planet after InSight landed", and the satellite was almost 4,700 miles away from Mars when the photo was snapped.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with the project's principle investigator, Bruce Banerdt.

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