As launch day approaches for the InSight Mars Lander, it also approaches for NASA’s technological experiment, MarCO, otherwise known as Mars Cube One. MarCOs are twin interplanetary CubeSats that are designed to track InSight’s movements before landing on Mars. The nano-spacecrafts will follow InSight as they take their own path to the Red Planet.
MarCO-A and B will be testing a series of new miniaturized technology for deep space communication purposes. If the briefcase-sized spacecrafts successfully make it to Mars, they will transmit InSight’s activity as it descends towards Martian soil.
“This will be a first test of miniaturized CubeSat technology at another planet, which researchers hope can offer new capabilities to future missions. If successful, the MarCOs could represent a new kind of communication capability to Earth. InSight’s success is independent of its CubeSat tag-alongs.” – NASA, Mars InSight Mission
Designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the MarCOs twins’ first challenge will be to deploy two solar panels and radio antennas.
InSight Mars Lander and MarCOs will be launching Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 4:05 a.m. PT/7:05 a.m. ET.