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CubeSats Deliver at Mars

28 Nov 2018, 20:11 UTC
CubeSats Deliver at Mars
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I never saw the 2008 film WALL·E, which was all the rage not long after its release. A computer animated science fiction movie, WALL·E won a slew of awards including a Golden Globe for best animated feature, a Nebula for best script, and an Academy Award, as well as making Time’s list of best movies of the decade. Bringing it to mind this morning, though, is the recent success of the InSight mission at landing on Mars, and the support technologies that flew with it.
Thus the image below, which in its own way is iconic. It’s from a craft nicknamed WALL·E after the star of the film, a CubeSat no larger than a briefcase that flew all the way to Mars in a seven month journey that demonstrated what miniaturized technologies can do. WALL·E is formally known as MARCO-B, the partner to MARCO-A (nicknamed EVE, another star of the film).
Both these craft proved successful at their mission, which was to offer Earthside engineers the opportunity to monitor the InSight landing in ways that hadn’t been attempted before. The CubeSats relayed information during the harried minutes of InSight’s descent and touchdown, returning data to the landing team in ...

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