HEICO Corporation has reported that its Sierra Microwave Technology and 3D-Plus subsidiaries supplied mission-critical equipment for NASA’s landing vehicle named InSight, which launched in May 2018 alongside two, twin cube satellites, called Mars Cube One. With assistance from the twin MarCO CubeSats, InSight landed on Mars at approximately 3pm Eastern Standard Time on November 30.
Georgetown, TX-based Sierra Microwave supplied medium power isolators on board InSight’s X Band Transmitter. Blacksburg, VA-based VPT provided hybrid DC-to-DC converters to assist with InSight’s interior exploration efforts. Buc, France-based 3D-Plus provided data memory modules on board InSight and the twin MarCO CubeSats. The memory modules on board InSight will store key pieces of information procured during the mission and the parts on board the MarCO CubeSats will facilitate communications between the landing vehicle and Earth.
Sierra Microwave, VPT and 3D-Plus have been critical suppliers for many high-profile space missions in the past, such as: ICESat-2, Parker Solar Probe, Juno, New Horizons, Dawn and Orion.
InSight, which is the acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is intended to perform a thorough study of Mars’ interior surface. This study will allow NASA scientists to understand the formation and evolution of the terrestrial planet.
Separately, the MarCO CubeSats, which are about the size of a briefcase, are a pioneering innovation in spacecraft. While the satellites’ main goal is to provide communications assistance between InSight and Earth, the small satellites withstood the winding, 300 million mile voyage between Earth and Mars. MarCO is allowing space exploration at a much reduced cost, which is widely believed to deliver the value of 10 launches in one mission.