B4.8 MarCO: Flight Results from the First Interplanetary CubeSat Mission
Symposium: B4. 26th IAA SYMPOSIUM ON SMALL SATELLITE MISSIONS
Session: 8 – Small Spacecraft for Deep-Space Exploration
Launched May 5th, 2018, the MarCO spacecraft have demonstrated that small spacecraft can operate in the deep space environment. The spacecraft successfully performed multiple trajectory correction maneuvers to achieve its flyby of Mars.
By choosing an advantageous angle, MarCO-B was able to simultaneously image the Earth and Moon at a distance of approximately 1 million kilometers. This vantage point exemplifies some of the usecases of low-cost explorers, including providing observational capability that a larger explorer might not be able to provide on its own.
On November 26, 2018, the MarCO spacecraft successfully flew by Mars while relaying entry-descentand-landing telemetry for the InSight vehicle. Both spacecraft performed beyond expectations and were able to provide a real-time link for the so-called “seven minutes of terror”.
Many lessons have been derived from the MarCO mission. From planetary protection to low cost ops, MarCO is paving the way to a new generation of explorers.