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Marco will fly to Mars


Small satellites will complete the mission Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport of NASA, which will depart from the Earth at a time of the Martian surface in September 2016. This is the first US lander that will investigate the properties of the subsurface of the fourth planet of the Solar System.
Will be two small satellites CubeSat to complete the array of mission Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) NASA, which will depart from the Earth at a time of the Martian surface in September 2016. For the first time these miniature satellites (from mass not greater than 1.33 kilograms) will fly in deep space and will serve the lander InSight to communicate more quickly with the Earth once landed on Mars.

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Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Underlying this mission technological vanguard are the Mars Cube One (Marco), developed by engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Of CubeSat in low Earth orbit we have already been launched by the dozens, many of them built by college students: These are standard modules (from one to a maximum of three, for this launch) cube-shaped, each about 10 cm side (unit). The technology behind these satellites is advanced yet low cost, because the costs of launching are not comparable (positive) to those of satellites or probes that we know today and being so small (say of nanosatellites) have the opportunity to ensure performance that traditionally would be unthinkable.
Specifically satellites CubeSat Marco are six units (36.6 cm by 24.3 cm by 11.8 cm – the size of a 24 hours) and will be launched from Vandenberg military base, California, with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with which to start InSight, the first NASA mission that will investigate the properties of the subsurface of the fourth planet of the Solar System (currently operating for this purpose two radars MARSIS onboard ESA’s Mars Express and the Mars Sharad Recoinassance Orbiter of NASA, both of realization Italian). The two CubeSats will separate from the rocket shortly after launch and will walk their own paths without the support of Atlas V and regardless of InSight to the Red Planet. After the release, the satellites Marco explain two radio antennas and two solar panels each of which is equipped.
“Mark is an experiment that has been added to InSight mission, but it is not necessary for the success of the mission,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Marco will fly independently around Mars.” The operations of entry-descent-landing (EDL) on Mars will begin on 28 September 2016 in the lander InSight. Since then the robot NASA will transmit information radio band UHF (Ultra High Frequency) to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which in turn (but not simultaneously) will send data to the instruments on the ground using radio frequencies in the band X. Confirmation The fact that the landing will come only after an hour. The instruments Marco, instead, a preliminary matter to communicate both in UHF (for receipt) that the X-band (for the reception and transmission), and then the communication will be simultaneous. This is a highly experimental mission, which if successful will greatly enhance future communications between probes, landers and the planet Earth, especially during the landing (the most sensitive).

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