Artistic vision of a tiny MarCO spacecraft on the way to the Red Planet
Two tiny satellites play the role of pioneers in the world of small spacecraft, opening the door to the development of a new direction of space research. A couple of small satellites MarCO-A and MarCO-B were launched in May together with the landing gear InSight. Now they are rushing to Mars and are to arrive at the planet at the end of November.
On November 26, InSight will receive landing commands while MarCO watches and records the landing, sending information to earth engineers, allowing them to demonstrate the details of a complex process. Tiny mechanical assistants also play the role of a backup communication relay system, sending signals to the MRO orbiter for delivery to Earth. Perhaps in the future, NASA will be able to rely solely on small satellites in such work. In the long run, scientists have much greater ambitions for this class of small satellites (do not exceed the parameters of the shoe box). MarCO is likely to help democratize deep space. This is a fairly cheap technology, so new countries and even individual universities will be able to break into the space race.
NASA enthusiastically supports the development of a program of small satellites and is looking for commercial proposals for their use. The MarCO team hopes that their work will open the doors for future engineers who dream of launching such mechanisms beyond the limits of the earth's orbit.