Science

NASA breaks record with new photo of Earth

NASA breaks record with new photo of Earth”

The antenna is in the photo.

The "Wall-E" CubeSat took a "pale blue dot image" of Earth and the moon from more than 600 thousand miles away.

"Consider it our homage to Voyager", said Andy Klesh, MarCO's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which built the CubeSats and manages their trailblazing mission on the Red Planet.

MarCO-B and its twin, MarCO-A, are the first CubeSats ever launched into deep space-most never go beyond Earth's orbit. "Both our Cubesats are healthy and functioning properly". They are now traveling towards Mars in support of NASA's InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) robotic lander, which will attempt to touch down on the Red Planet on November 26.

Despite the "pale blue dot" photos' similarity, the two cubesats, known as MarCO-A and MarCO-B, are nowhere near as far afield as Voyager 1 was back in 1990.

Almost 30 years after Voyager 1 sent back to Earth a photo of humanity's home planet, taken from several billion miles away, the two CubeSats, nicknamed by NASA engineers Wall-E and Eva, did the same, but from a distance of only 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers). Instead, the spacecraft must be able to receive commands from operators on Earth, then execute them on its own.

Each of the MarCO ("Mars Cube One") probes is roughly the size of a small briefcase, and stuffed with experimental equipment that will come into play during their Red Planet flyby in November.

The photo released by NASA on Tuesday shows both the Earth and the Moon in one rather blurry shot.

This annotated version shows the planet and parts of the CubeSat.

Nasa views the helicopter as a 'high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration, ' it said. In the 2008 film "Wall-E", the titular robot uses a fire extinguisher to zoom around in space while his friend Eva looks on.

In five decades of exploring Mars, NASA has sent orbiters, landers and rovers to explore Earth's neighbor.

The CubeSats, named MarCO-A and -B, are the latest experiments to test the suitability of pint-size craft for exploration of the solar system.

InSight's work, however, will just be beginning. The Mars Helicopter, a small autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with NASA'sMars 2020 rover mission, scheduled to launch in July 2020, in a effort to demonstrate the viability of heavier-than-air vehicles on Mars. InSight's observations should help researchers better understand how rocky planets form and evolve, NASA officials have said.



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