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Home / Science / NASA cubecraft WALL-E and EVE retire after historic Mars flyby – TechCrunch

NASA cubecraft WALL-E and EVE retire after historic Mars flyby – TechCrunch



A mission by NASA that sent two tiny spacecraft outward seems to have come to an end: The Cubesats MarCO-A and B (nicknamed WALL-E and EVE) are no longer communicating from their positions from a million and two million miles from Earth.

The boot the size of a suitcase-sized suitcase rowed with the launch of Insight Mars Lander in May with a shotgun and broke away shortly after leaving orbit. It was not long before they had gone farther than all the other dice the size of cubes, and after about a million kilometers, EVE envisioned a great attitude of the earth, which subsided (if the Wake was a thing in space).

They were near Mars Insight descended on the Red Planet and provided backup observation and connectivity. After they did that, their mission was over. In fact, the team felt that if it did, it would be a great success.

"The mission has always been to push the boundaries of miniaturized technology and see how far it could bring us," mission chief engineer Andy Klesh of JPL said in a press release. "We have a stake in the ground. Future CubeSats could go further. "

Manufacturing both vehicles cost less than $ 20 million, a fraction of what orbiting and conventional size probes cost, and of course their size is also much easier to launch.

In the end, however, these were experimental platforms that were not intended for years ̵

1; or decades like Voyager 1 and 2. The communication between the two vehicles and the mission control system was discontinued, and although this was expected, the cause is still undefined: [19659007] The mission team has several theories why it was not possible to contact the couple. WALL-E has a leaky thruster. Control attitude problems could cause them to wobble and lose the ability to send and receive commands. Another factor could be the brightness sensors that allow the CubeSats to stay focused on the sun and recharge their batteries. The MarCOs are in orbit around the sun and are getting farther away with February. The further they are, the more accurately they must align their antennas to communicate with the earth.

There is little chance that WALL-E and EVE orbits will bring them closer to the Sun, turn them back on and send a signal. A bit more information, and the team will be watching this summer to see if that happens. But it would be just a cherry on a cherry at this point.

Learn more about the MarCO project here, and all the images that the ship could pick up and return are collected here.


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