The Insight mission launched on schedule from Vandenburg Air force base in California on May 5 at 4:45 am. When NASA’s Insight mission launched, it was accompanied by two identical, backpack-size satellites collectively called Mars Cube One, or MarCO.
The power system on the MarCO cubesats includes MMA’s HaWK Solar Arrays, and from all reports, the HaWKs deployed successfully and the power system is working flawlessly!
MarCO-A and MarCO-B (aka Wall-E and Eva) are officially the smallest satellites ever sent past the moon on an interplanetary journey! The MarCO cubesat pair were deployed from the launch vehicle separately from the Insight Lander, and while they are carrying their own communications and navigation experiments as they fly independently to the Red Planet, their job is to radio back data about InSight while it enters the atmosphere and descends to the planet’s surface. By proving that CubeSats are a viable technology for interplanetary missions, and feasible on a short development timeline, this technology demonstration could lead to many other applications to explore and study our solar system.
Check out this awesome video which shows the MarCO cubesats in action.