NASA prepares to send the first interplanetary cubsats to Mars

On May 5, the Atlas V rocket should be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It will send an InSight spacecraft to Mars. Its main goal is the study of the tectonic activity and the internal structure of the red planet. InSight must deliver two key instruments to Mars: a SEIS seismometer and a probe to measure heat flow. SEIS will record fluctuations from marshmakes and meteorite falls. As for the probe, it will measure the amount of heat emanating from the inner layers of the planet.
NASA is preparing to send to Mars the first interplanetary Kubsaty InSight, VALLY, will, platforms, CubeSat, vehicles, data, planets, the main, quite, concerned, very, Earth, can, missions, another, successfully, together, go, orbit

In the shadow of the main InSight mission there is another interesting NASA experiment, the success of which may have an impact on future interplanetary missions. The fact is that, together with InSight, two "fellow travelers" will go to Mars. Speech on MarCO nanosatellites (Mars Cube One). Officially, the devices are called MarCO-A and MarCO-B. But the experts gave them the unofficial designations WALL-E and EBA.
NASA is preparing to send to Mars the first interplanetary Kubsaty InSight, VALLY, will, platforms, CubeSat, vehicles, data, planets, the main, quite, concerned, very, Earth, can, missions, another, successfully, together, go, orbit

WALL-E and EBA are built by JPL engineers based on the CubeSat platform (6U).Their dimensions are 11.8 by 24.3 by 36.6 cm, weight - 13.5 kg. Devices will be placed into a migratory orbit with InSight, but will continue their independent flight.
NASA is preparing to send to Mars the first interplanetary Kubsaty InSight, VALLY, will, platforms, CubeSat, vehicles, data, planets, the main, quite, concerned, very, Earth, can, missions, another, successfully, together, go, orbit

This mission will be the first case in history when devices created on the basis of the CubeSat platform will be sent to another planet. Whether they can handle interplanetary travel is a very good question. Such satellites quite successfully work in Earth orbit. However, their electronics do not have any specialized protection from the radiation they encounter in deep space. If WALL-E and EBA successfully withstand the flight and maintain their performance, this fact alone will be very important.
NASA is preparing to send to Mars the first interplanetary Kubsaty InSight, VALLY, will, platforms, CubeSat, vehicles, data, planets, the main, quite, concerned, very, Earth, can, missions, another, successfully, together, go, orbit

But the test of survival in deep space is not the only purpose of interplanetary cubsat. In the case of successful achievement of Mars, WALL-E and EVA will be used for the experiment to relay data with InSight during its landing on Mars.
By itself, this test will not affect the success of the main mission. Data from InSight will be transmitted to Earth by the MRO. However, due to the nature of the orbital geometry, this will take several hours.Kubsat will be able to organize data transfer in almost real time. They will pick up InSight signals in the UHF range and transmit them to Earth in the X range. The speed of data retransmission will be 8 kbps. At first glance, quite a bit, but this is quite enough for the purposes of the test.
NASA is preparing to send to Mars the first interplanetary Kubsaty InSight, VALLY, will, platforms, CubeSat, vehicles, data, planets, the main, quite, concerned, very, Earth, can, missions, another, successfully, together, go, orbit

If the experiment succeeds, such miniature repeaters can become part of a standard set of future interplanetary missions. In addition, it stimulates the development of the use of devices created on the basis of the CubeSat platform for the study of various objects of the Solar System. As for WALL-E and EBA, they do not have engines that can slow them down and put them into orbit around Mars. Therefore, after the passage of the red planet, the vehicles will go further in the direction of the asteroid belt.

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