NASA ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Eve’ Mars robots VANISH two MILLION miles from Earth

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 NASA MarCO mission

Mars, with its characteristic crimson color, has long captivated mankind. And interest in the Red Planet is steadily increasing, with a manned mission to Mars ever-more likely. But now a pair of NASA probes sent to study Mars in further detail have dramatically disappeared without a trace.

US space agency NASA has now not heard from the £14million unmanned spacecraft for a month.

“This mission was always about pushing the limits of miniaturised technology.” NASA MarCO chief engineer Andy Klesh

NASA engineers are now resigned losing the probes forever.

Yet despite the bitter loss, NASA has hailed the mission, dubbed Mars Cube One (MarCO), a success.

This is because the MarCO mission proved that cutting-edge robots can survive the rigours of deep space and even interstellar travel.

 MarCO NASA mission

MarCO NASA mission: This is the final image from the robots' doomed mission (Image: NASA)

The cubesats were named Wall-E and Eve after the characters from the popular animated Disney film.

Cubesats have been hailed as the next generation of low-cost satellite, which are about the size of a briefcase.

NASA will use the compact spacecraft to explore the furthest of infinite space.

The main attraction of cubesats is they cost a fraction of the cost of most space missions.

Andy Klesh, the NASA MarCO chief engineer said: "This mission was always about pushing the limits of miniaturised technology and seeing just how far it could take us.

"We've put a stake in the ground. Future CubeSats might go even farther."

Wall-E and Eve blasted off for their Mars mission in May 2018 alongside NASA’s Insight lander, which touched down on the red planet in November.

The two CubeSats, which are the first class of this spacecraft to enter deep space, were orbiting Mars as Insight landed.

The cubesats helped NASA to coordinate information about the landing as Insight descended to the surface, "blazing a trail" for future CubeSat missions, according to NASA.

Following Insight's successful touchdown, Wall-E and Eve continued travelling beyond Mars to test their parameters.

 NASA MarCO mission Wall-E Eve

NASA MarCO mission: Despite the robots' loss, the mission has been hailed a success (Image: NASA)

 NASA Mars mission MarCO mission Wall-E Eve

NASA Mars mission: The cubesats were pushing the limits of miniaturised technology (Image: NASA)

But it appears the NASA spacecraft has finally been pushed beyond their limits.

WALL-E was last heard from on December 29, while the last message from EVE was received on January 4.

Based on their trajectories at the time, WALL-E is currently more than 1million miles past Mars, while EVE is almost twice that distance from the planet.

The mission team isn't sure why the probes have disappeared but has several theories.

Wall-E has a leaky thruster, and issues with controlling the direction of the craft could be causing them to wobble and lose the ability to send and receive commands.

Problems with the brightness sensors that allow the cubesats to stay pointed at the Sun and recharge their batteries could be another factor for the radio silence.

The MarCO cubesats will most likely remain orbiting around the sun and will only get farther away from the star as the month continues.

Wall-E and Eve will not start moving toward the sun again for a few more months.

The NASA MarCO project will reattempt to contact the cubesats again in the summer.

However, industry insiders are reportedly uncertain their parts will survive that long.

NASA plans to launch a fleet of new cubesats in the coming years.

John Baker, MarCO programme manager, said: "There's big potential in these small packages.

"CubeSats – part of a larger group of spacecraft called SmallSats – are a new platform for space exploration that is affordable to more than just government agencies."

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