NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were on board the spacecraft, which was scheduled to dock to the International Space Station (ISS) later in the day.
A Soyuz-FG rocket launched the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with International Space Station Expedition 57-58 crew members, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on 11 October 2018, at 08:40 UTC (14:40 local time). Due to a booster error, the spacecraft entered a ballistic descend and the crew landed in Kazakhstan. Credits: NASA/Roscosmos
Cosmic rays are fast-moving particles that originate outside the solar system. Some of these cosmic rays are blocked by the heliosphere, so mission planners expect that Voyager 2 will measure an increase in the rate of cosmic rays as it approaches and crosses the boundary of the heliosphere.
Voyager 2 began it’s journey away from Earth back in 1977 and is roughly 11 billion miles from home. In 2007 it entered the outermost layer of the heliosphere, and now based on data recorded by the probe’s Cosmic Ray Subsystem instrument, NASA scientists say there’s a good chance that it is about to reach the boundary (known as the heliopause) and join Voyager 1 in the history books as the second human-made object to go interstellar. Back in August, the cosmic rays hitting the probe increased by five percent.
All previous CubeSats have orbited the Earth. MarCO is the first attempt to go to another planet. By verifying that the technologies for interplanetary missions are feasible and can be developed on a short timeline, this test mission could lead to many other SmallSat applications for exploring our solar system. Some could provide similar support functions as „carry your own“ relay providers. Others could have primary scientific research functions of their own, such as radio transmissions through planetary atmospheres, imaging with small cameras, observations with other miniaturized instruments, or in-place measurements of space environments.