Friday, February 22, 2019
News

NASA's first deep space mini spacecraft go silent

   SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend    Print this Page   COMMENT

Washington | Thursday, 2019 2:15:05 PM IST
NASA's first interplanetary mission to use a class of mini-spacecraft has fallen silent in deep space and it is unlikely that they will be heard again, the US space agency has said.

Launched last year, the pair of briefcase-sized spacecraft known collectively as MarCO (Mars Cube One) -- nicknamed EVE and WALL-E, after characters from a Pixar film -- served as communications relays during InSight's landing, beaming back data at each stage of its descent to the Martian surface in near-real time.

However, "it's been over a month since engineers have heard from MarCO," NASA said in a statement.

"At this time, the mission team considers it unlikely they'll be heard from again.

"WALL-E was last heard from on December 29, EVE, on January 4. Based on trajectory calculations, WALL-E is currently more than 1.6 million km past Mars. EVE is farther, almost 3.2 million km past Mars," NASA noted.

The team is not exactly sure why the satellites have gone silent.

"WALL-E has a leaky thruster. Attitude-control issues could be causing them to wobble and lose the ability to send and receive commands. The brightness sensors that allow the CubeSats to stay pointed at the Sun and recharge their batteries could be another factor," NASA said.

The MarCOs are in orbit around the Sun and would not start moving again until this summer.

Although the team will re-attempt to contact the CubeSats at that time, it is doubtful whether their batteries and other parts will last that long, as the farther they are, the more precisely they need to point their antennas to communicate with Earth.

Even if they are never revived, the MarCO mission was a spectacular success, NASA said.

WALL-E sent back stunning images of Mars as well, while EVE performed some simple radio science.

"This mission was always about pushing the limits of miniaturised technology and seeing just how far it could take us," said Andy Klesh, the mission's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which built the CubeSats.

"We've put a stake in the ground. Future CubeSats might go even farther," Klesh added

--IANS rt/ksk/ab

( 362 Words)

2019-02-07-13:54:07 (IANS)

 
  LATEST COMMENTS (0)
POST YOUR COMMENT
Comments Not Available
 
POST YOUR COMMENT
 
 
TRENDING TOPICS
 
 
CITY NEWS
MORE CITIES
 
 
 
MORE SCIENCE NEWS
First product of Apple's electric car pr...
HPE, Samsung collaborate to accelerate 5...
AT&T pulls all ads from YouTube over pae...
Apple submits blueprint of foldable smar...
New DNA-like molecule to aid search for ...
Qlik to acquire Attunity for nearly $560...
More...
 
INDIA WORLD ASIA
State govt extending all support to loca...
It's a task I am happy to do: Lt Gen DS ...
Caravan defamation case: Delhi court res...
Central govt wants to cancel cricket mat...
Vada pav seller contributes one-day sala...
Modi is Prime Time Minister, not PM: Rah...
More...    
 
 Top Stories
EU to remain India's largest tradin... 
BSES-EESL join hands to offer Delhi... 
IUML gets one Lok Sabha seat from D... 
Will defend Forest Rights Act: Trib... 
Nifty50's Friday jinx moderates but... 
Number of voters in Telangana goes ... 
Share pledging rises across sectors... 
75 Rohingya Muslims arrested in Ass...