The news that NASA has arrived (again) on Mars has two silent protagonists, but that in practice they were fundamental, so the world could have known that the inspection for insight had succeeded in landing on the red planet. They are Wall-E and Eva, two nanosatellite workers who worked as a robot guard who will explore the surface of Mars. They followed the operation at a distance and within a few minutes they sent a confirmation to the Earth that everything had gone well.
Satellites call attention by name. While officially they are MarCO-A and MarCO-B (for the program they are part of), NASA scientists have portrayed them as characters in the 2008 Picard movie. There are two simple reasons: if one fails, the other can continue on the mission alone.
The two satellites of the Marco program, which followed the landing of the insight. (AP)
Marco's mission, NASA explains at the site of the Insight Investigation, was built to test whether these two small experimental spacecraft – the size of the suitcase – could survive the journey in deep space. These two nanosatellites known as CubeSats proved to be more capable.
For seven months, they traveled from Earth to Mars behind the insight, and then positioned themselves on the outskirts so they could transfer the landing details that this Monday was formed.
"WALL-E and EVA were working just the way we expected," said Marco Engineer Andy Clash, from the NASA's laboratory for laboratory cooling in California. That's where CubeSats were programmers. "They were a great test of how they can serve in future missions," updating the status of the landing to the minute.
As explained by the space agency, they used experimental radios and antennas and took them only 8 minutes in sending data to Earth.
The first picture Insight sent after landing on the surface of Mars. (EFE)
Due to the difficulties encountered by landing on Mars (only 40% of the attempts were successful), for scientists this small satellite model functions as an eventual "black box" for recording an accident, and then it can examine and improve future attempts.
One detail: the project was mostly developed by young scientists and in many cases it is about that first experience in space missions. Hence, success has an added taste for them.
After the landing, MarCO-B turned to a farewell image of the Red Planet. He also tried to make several pictures of the moons on Mars, Phobos and Damos.
The image of Mars that took one of the satellites of more than a thousand kilometers. (REUTERS)
"WALL-E sent some big postcards to Mars!" said Cody Colley of JPL, Marco mission manager, who led the job to schedule each CubeSat for photography.
With the mission's accomplishments, the MarCO team will spend the following weeks collecting additional data from each CubeSat.
Meanwhile, on Mars, Insight is now taking pictures of the earth, so engineers can decide where to put the scientific instruments of the spacecraft. NASA estimates it takes two to three months before these instruments are fully implemented and data are sent.