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One way engineers may be able to confirm quickly what activities InSight has completed during those seven minutes of terror is if the experimental CubeSat mission known as Mars Cube One (MarCO) relays InSight data back to Earth in near-real time during their flyby on Nov. 26. The two MarCO spacecraft (A and B) are making good progress toward their rendezvous point, and their radios have already passed their first deep-space tests.
"Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands," said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. "Once InSight is settled on the Red Planet and its instruments are deployed, it will start collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars' deep interior — information that will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one we call home."
How InSight’s First Images Could Be Returned to Earth:
MarCO, the experimental pair of CubeSats, could relay back a first image just after the entry, descent and landing phase. If this happens, the image (or partial image) could be available within 10 to 20 minutes of touchdown.
MRO could -- but is unlikely to -- relay back an image. MRO will prioritize relaying engineering data as it is setting over the Martian horizon. An image received via MRO wouldn’t be ready until late afternoon.
Odyssey could -- but is also unlikely to -- relay back images during its first pass, which occurs several hours after InSight lands. At that time, it will receive a recording of the EDL data from InSight. It may not be able to transmit image data before it passes over the horizon; if it did, it would be available in the early evening. Odyssey will also pass over InSight the day after landing between 6 and 8 a.m. PST (9 and 11 a.m. EST) [14:00 and 16:00 UTC] on Nov. 27.
originally posted by: putnam6
a reply to: Moohide
According to website they use the shape and dimensions because it can be made using off the shelf standard parts. Pretty cool stuff,cost efficient.
CubeSats are a class of spacecraft based on a standardized small size and modular use of off-the-shelf technologies. Many have been made by university students, and hundreds have been launched into Earth orbit using extra payload mass available on launches of larger spacecraft.
The basic CubeSat unit is a box roughly 4 inches (10 centimeters) square. Larger CubeSats are multiples of that unit. MarCO's design is a six-unit CubeSat. Each of the two spacecraft has a stowed size of about 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters).
The spring-loaded CubeSat deployment system for MarCO is on the aft bulkhead carrier of the Centaur upper stage of InSight's Atlas V launch vehicle. That is near the base of the Centaur, not inside the fairing that encloses the main spacecraft. At launch and until the Centaur upper stage separates from the first stage of the Atlas V, the aft bulkhead carrier is sheltered within an inter-stage adaptor between the launch vehicle and the second, or upper, stages.
After the Centaur upper stage has released the InSight spacecraft on course toward Mars, it will do a short roll, then release MarCO-A, roll 180 degrees further and release MarCO-B.
The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera's transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera's lens.