Last year, two satellites the size of cereal boxes sped toward Mars as though they were on an invisible track in space. Officially called MarCO A and MarCO B, they were nicknamed Wall-E and EVE, after the animated robots from the Pixar movie, by engineers at NASA.
They were just as endearing and vulnerable as their namesakes. The satellites, known as cubesats, were sent to watch over NASA’s larger InSight spacecraft as it attempted a perilous landing on the surface of Mars at the end of November.
Constellations of small satellites like the MarCOs now orbit Earth, used by scientists, private companies, high school students and even governments seeking low-budget eyes in the skies. But never before had a cubesat traveled 300 million miles into space.
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