News that NASA arrived (again) on Mars has two silent protagonists, but in practice they are fundamental so the world can know that the Insight investigation has succeeded in landing on the red planet. They are Wall-E and Eva, two nanosatelit who work as robotic guards who will explore Mars. They followed operations in the distance and within minutes sent to Earth confirmation that everything was going well.
Satellite calls attention by name. While they are officially MarCO-A and MarCO-B (for the programs they are part of), NASA scientists dub them the characters in the 2008 Pixar film. There are two simple reasons: if that fails, others can continue their mission alone.
Two MarCO program satellites that followed the landing of the Insight probe. (AP)
The MarCO mission, explaining NASA at the Insight investigation site, was built to test whether these two experimental small spacecraft – the size of a briefcase – could survive a trip into space. The two nanosatellites known as CubeSats proved to be more than capable.
For seven months they traveled from Earth to Mars behind the Insight investigation and then positioned themselves on the outskirts to be able to send details of the landing, which was formed this Monday.
"WALL-E and EVA work as we expected," said chief engineer Marco Andy Klesh of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. That's where CubeSats is a developer. "They are a very good test of how it can function in a future mission," updating the landing status to minutes.
As detailed by the space agency, they use radio and experimental antennas and take them only 8 minutes in sending data to Earth.
The first picture sent by Insight after landing on Mars. (EFE)
Because difficulties are represented by landings on Mars (only 40% of successful efforts), for scientists this small satellite model serves as the final "black box" to record accidents and can then investigate and increase future efforts.
One detail: this project was largely developed by young scientists and in many cases it was about first experience in space missions. Therefore, success has an extra sense for them.
After landing, MarCO-B turned to take a farewell photo from the Red Planet. He also tried to take several photos of the moon Mars, Phobos and Deimos.
The image of Mars that takes one satellite from more than a thousand kilometers away. (REUTERS)
"WALL-E sent several large postcards from Mars!" said Cody Colley, from JPL, MarCO's mission manager, who led the work to schedule each CubeSat to take pictures.
With mission objectives achieved, the MarCO team will spend the following weeks collecting additional data from each CubeSat.
Meanwhile, on Mars, Insight now takes pictures of the ground so that engineers can decide where to place scientific instruments from the spacecraft. NASA estimates that it will take two to three months before the instrument is fully implemented and sends data.