The NASA is ready to launch a stationary lander to Mars in 2016, which will bring along two CubeSats, making it the first time ever that a tiny class of spacecraft is flown in deep space.
Actually, a part of the demonstration called as Mars Cube One or MarCo is what CubeSats is. Equipped with radio for reception of ultra-high frequency transmission, the CubeSats will also make use of it for sending and receiving X-band transmission.
MarCO was designed to demonstrate that cubseSats can function as a relay between the mission’s primary aircraft, the InSight lander, and Earth. InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations.
There are many CubeSats which are on missions above Earth, but this will be the first time after a year that these little satellites will take it to the next level by landing on Mars.
MarCO will be launched from California in March next year onboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will also carry the InSight lander.
The objective will be NASA’s first that will look into the details of Mars’ interior structure. While MarCO will be orbiting the planet, InSight will land on the surface of the Red Planet in September 2016.
After launch, the two CubeSats will detach from the Atlas V booster and travel along their own trajectories to Mars. The first challenge for MarCO after release from the launch vehicle will be the deployment of two solar panels and two radio antennas.
The director of the planetary science division of NASA, Jim Green, said that even though MarCo has been added as an experimental capability to the InSight mission, it might not be mandatory for a successful mission.
If the demonstration is successful, the technology will allow the U.S. space agency to have the capability to quickly transmit status information about the InSight lander after it lands on the Red Planet.
In comparison to the traditional methods, CubeSats can transmit information about the landing of InSight on the surface of Mars much faster, NASA said.
“By verifying CubeSats are a viable technology for interplanetary missions, and feasible on a short development timeline, this technology demonstration could lead to many other applications to explore and study our solar system,” NASA said in a statement.