This past weekend, NASA launched the InSight lander to Mars. However, two unique satellites joined the InSight lander in space.
The MarCO Twins Call Home
NASA confirmed that it was contacted by the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellites over the weekend. Scientists report that MarCO-A and MarCO-B signaled their status twice. The first radio signal was received at 3:15 p.m. EST, while the second signal was acknowledged at 4:58 p.m. The space agency recently launched the satellites into space from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5. The space agency reports that both MarCO-A and MarCO-B have the distinguished honor of being the first satellites of their kind to be launched into space for an interplanetary mission.
What Are CubeSats?
NASA labeled both MarCO-A and MarCO-B as CubeSats. CubeSats are small boxed spacecraft that have been associated to help engineering students as they prepare to build their space equipment. The CubeSats that NASA launched to follow InSight have been assigned to work on testing various pieces of equipment.
Traveling To Mars
The CubeSats team will study both MarCO-A and MarCO-B as they move toward Mars. However, if the CubeSats can survive their travel into space, the team will test both satellites to see if they could act as black boxes for future Mars missions. Once both MarCO satellites fly by Mars, their purposes will conclude.
"These are our scouts. CubeSats haven't had to survive the intense radiation of a trip to deep space before, or use propulsion to point their way towards Mars. We hope to blaze that trail," said Andy Klesh, NASA chief engineer.
An InSight Update
The InSight lander is in the first stage of its six-month mission to the Red Planet. If the lander has a successful flight through space, the space vehicle is scheduled to touch down this November. Once it lands on Mars, the lander will study Mars' structure and is expected to use a heat probe and seismometer throughout the mission.
Tapestries And Shade
A research team in Queen's University Belfast looked for clues to the existence of the mysterious Planet Nine in medieval tapestries. The team believes that Anglo Saxons might have discovered the ninth planet and recorded it inside of one of the fabrics. Historians have noted that the Middle Ages residents were fascinated with the heavens, and scientists used the lengthy material to mark important dates.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing recently threw shade at its rival SpaceX. Boeing claimed that NASA officials were unimpressed with SpaceX's Falcon Heavy spaceship. They also believed that SpaceX built a rocket that was too small for NASA's deep space mission. Boeing developed a website called "Watch Us Fly" that not only bashed their rival's spacecraft but also teased that their Space Launch System rocket will be the primary rocket for future NASA missions.
Tech Times reached out to NASA for a comment regarding this story.