(Meredith) – See that tiny blue speck floating in an infinite void? That’s us.
NASA set a new distance record for CubeSats on May 8 after Mars Cube One (MarCO) snapped a photo of our planet 621,371 miles away.
"Consider it our homage to Voyager," said Andy Klesh, MarCO's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL built the CubeSats and leads the MarCO mission. "CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone. Both our CubeSats are healthy and functioning properly. We're looking forward to seeing them travel even farther."
CubeSats are spacecrafts made from small components that are typically used for research purposes and tend to stay in low-Earth orbit. However, Mars Cube One is the first CubeSat designed to operate in deep space.
MarCO was launched on May 5, along with InSight Lander, which will touch down on Mars and study the planet’s interior. MarCO’s job is to act as a kind of chaperone to InSight Lander as it approaches Mars.
MarCO will send data back to NASA about InSight Lander’s condition as it enters the planet’s atmosphere and explores Mars.