Space missions used to be so expensive that only economic superpowers like the USA and Russia could afford to do them, but with tiny satellites like the MarCo CubeSat there may be a way to explore space at a fraction of the cost.
The MarCo CubeSat will hitch a ride on an Atlas V rocket before unfolding it’s two wing-like solar panels, and its flat-packed communications systems. The MarCo is equipped with a small cold gas mini-thruster – using the same kind of propellant as in some fire extinguishers – which will still give enough thrust for the 6.5 month-long journey to Mars. It will follow NASA’s InSight probe and relay data from the InSight lander to Earth during its so-called “seven minutes of terror” as the lander punches through the Martian atmosphere . Not bad for a satellite the size of a suitcase!
Read the full story by Cathal O’Connell on the Cosmos website here.