NASAs first mini-spacecraft in deep space go silent

NASAs first mini-spacecraft in deep space go silent

NASAs first mini-spacecraft in deep space go silent

MarCO launched to Mars behind the InSight mission and were meant to act as relays for data during each stage of the InSight landing process in near-real time, that mission was a success. NASA plans to repurpose some of the spare parts used in their construction, such as antennas, experimental radios, and propulsion systems, to build additional CubeSats scheduled to launch in the near future. If they make the journey to Mars, they will test a relay of data about InSight's entry, descent and landing back to Earth.

WALL-E sent back stunning images of Mars as well, while EVE performed some simple radio science.

Repeated attempts to communicate with the satellites have failed.

The US space agency launched Cubesats MarCO-A and B - nicknamed WALL-E and EVE - in May.

The team is not exactly sure why the satellites have gone silent.

Attitude-control issues could be causing them to wobble and lose the ability to send and receive commands, NASA said in a statement. Both recharge their batteries by pointing their solar panels at the Sun. Due to their briefcase size, they have been selected to take part in a variety of future missions in space.

"There's big potential in these small packages", said John Baker, the MarCO program manager at JPL. But if they don't, NASA said the MarCO mission has been a "spectacular success" and will provide a blueprint for other cubesats in the future.

As InSight descended to the surface, the two briefcase-size satellites flew past the red planet, providing real-time updates to ground controllers in a first-of-its-kind experiment. The pair also beamed by photographs.

"This mission was always about pushing the limits of miniaturized technology and seeing just how far it could take us", said in a statement Andy Klesh, the mission's chief engineer at JPL.

"We've put a stake in the ground", Klesh said in the JPL statement. Inside the dome, the seismometer is also contained in a titanium, vacuum-sealed container, the combination of which helps insulate the instrument even further from environmental hazards.

There's a small chance that Wall-E and Eve could spring back to life. NASA is doubtful that they will check in again, but their success is seen as a good sign for the future of CubeSats on NASA missions. The team will reattempt to contact the CubeSats at that time, though whether their batteries and other parts will last that long cannot be predicted.

The MarCO spacecraft made it successfully to Mars previous year, but have recently lost contact with Earth.

InSight (short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport") was launched aboard an Atlas rocket in California on May 5, 2018, arriving at its destination on November 26, 2018.

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