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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Pale Red Dot

Pale Red Dot

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 23, 2018/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                              A Pale Red Dot by Mars Cube One First Image, 10-2-2018 (credit, JPL)

With a nod to Carl Sagan's famous comment 'a pale blue dot', on seeing the Earth from the Voyager 1, the new CubeSats have captured a similar view of Mars. MarCO (for Mars Cube One) is being carried by NASA's InSight spacecraft bound for Mars to study the Red Planet's interior.

According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the twin MarCO CubeSats took this photograph of Mars earlier this month. This is first Mars image ever produced by this new class of miniature, low-cost, spacecraft. The two CubeSats are officially called MarCO-A and MarCO-B but nicknamed "EVE" and "Wall-E" by their engineers, after the famous robots in Pixar's animated film, Wall-E. The MarCO camera looks out from the deck of the CubeSat. Parts of the spacecraft's antenna are visible on either side of the image with Mars appearing as a small red dot at the lower right.

InSight is scheduled to reach Mars late this year and descend to the Martian surface. The MarCO mission hopes to produce more images as the CubeSats approach Mars and as they separate from the spacecraft to capture its descent. If successful, this will fully demonstrate the CubeSat's communications capabilities while InSight attempts landing on the surface.

WHB

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