CubeSat Sends The First Image Of Mars

Roughly 65 million miles from Earth, InSight has still got another 5 million to go before it gets to Mars, which the countdown on NASA's site says will happen in 32 days on November 26, 2018. Mars appeared as a small red dot on the right-hand corner of the photograph.

But against the deep, dark backdrop of space, the rusty-red world looks as humble and insignificant as Earth.

The study notes that the best areas are situated around the poles of the planet, while also suggesting that life may be present in select zones which are rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium which play a fundamental role when it comes to metabolic functions.

The picture was taken from about 8 million miles away by one of two backpack-sized CubeSats, collectively known as Mars Cube One, or MarCO. The two CubeSats are officially called MarCO-A and MarCO-B but nicknamed "EVE" and "Wall-E" by their engineering team.

The MarCO satellites are the smallest spacecraft ever flown past the moon.

The exploration of deep space wouldn't be limited to the largest space agencies anymore.

One of NASA's MarCO spacecraft took this image of Mars on October 2 - the first time a CubeSat, a kind of low-priced, briefcase-sized spacecraft - has done so.

The MarCOs are following a moving target, which is orbiting around the Sun. NASA expects them both to slip into orbit as InSight lands, helping relay unprecedented data about the robot's landing back to Earth in (relative) real time.

A team led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), calculated that if liquid water exists on Mars, it could - under specific conditions - contain more oxygen than previously thought. "The cruise phase of the mission is always hard, so you take all the small wins when they come".

A camera on the top of the MarCO-B, which is of wide angle, has produced the image.

Earlier, a research by scientists at Oxford University in London had theorised that Mars once had an oxygen-rich atmosphere about four billion years ago - almost 1.5 billion years before Earth developed its atmospheric oxygen.

On the flipside, the image shows Mars is not an infinite plane like the rest of the universe.

It should be noted that pure liquid water will easily freeze in the Martian surface, but salty water in brines could remain in the liquid state at or just below the surface of the planet.

Vanessa Coleman