Science

NASA breaks record with new photo of Earth

NASA breaks record with new photo of Earth

The image, taken by MarCO-B or Wall-E CubeSat, shows Earth as a faint blue dot and the moon, sitting a little far from it, as an even fainter mark.

The view of our planet from more than 620,000 miles away is evocative of the photo that NASA's Voyager 1 probe snapped in 1990 from a distance of 3.7 billion miles. If the mission goes as planned, they'll help send back information about InSight's descent and landing on Mars. "Both our Cubesats are healthy and functioning properly". If successful, the two testbeds could lay the foundation for miniature spacecraft traveling to the moon, asteroids, comets and the planets, accomplishing focused scientific objectives at significantly lower cost than conventional space probes.

This is the 1st distant image of the Earth and moon ever captured by a CubeSat. Although many know that it lifted off successfully, they didn't know that the spacecraft wasn't alone on its journey but that it was joined by two tiny CubeSats of which one has returned a magnificent photograph of an Earth-Moon duo.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, which manages both InSight and MarCO for NASA, built the two MarCO spacecraft in JPL's CubeSat assembly clean room.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft took a classic portrait of Earth - the famous Pale Blue Dot image - from several billion miles away in 1990. It was coupled with the NASA's Insight Lander and was launched on May 05, 2018.

The "marscopter" will be one of the components of the Mars survey mission scheduled to blast off in July 2020, the USA space agency on Friday. "We're looking forward to seeing them travel even farther", Klesh added.

Tiny NASA satellite bound for Mars snaps photo of Earth from thousands of miles away
NASA CubeSat Wall-E Sends Back Shot of Earth Taken on the Way to Mars

The MarCO spacecraft are "six-unit" CubeSats, and they are the first of their kind to leave Earth's vicinity.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will attempt to land on Mars on November 26. The better news is that Earth and the moon showed up in the frame as well. After getting separated, these followed the InSight Mars Lander to the Mars. The satellite pair will grab as much data about InSight as it can and beam it to the Deep Space Network antenna in Madrid, Spain at a blistering 8 kilobits per second. They're intended purely as a technology demonstration, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes.

Engineers who worked on the MarCO mission nicknamed the CubeSats "Wall-E" and "Eva", based on characters from the 2008 Pixar film.

According to Good, the twin MarCO spacecraft will conduct their trajectory correction maneuvers one at a time to begin fine-tuning their course toward Mars.

Mars 2020 is slated to launch on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket during that July.

If the tech fails, the mission will not be affected and all NASA will potentially lose is the money spent developing the helicopter.