Nasa is set to launch its first set of two CubeSats, which will be operating in deepspace.

MarCO-A and MarCO-B satellites have been built by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US. The spacecraft are collectively called Mars Cube One (MarCO).

MarCO is scheduled to be launched on a rocket with Nasa’s InSight robotic lander for Mars early next month.

They are designed to follow InSight on its journey through space. If they survive the journey, they will relay data about InSight as it enters the Martian atmosphere and lands.

“The satellites are designed to demonstrate the first test of CubeSat technology beyond Earth’s orbit.”

MarCOs will be equipped with a folding high-gain antenna to carry out the mission. They will examine a system of communications relay that could act as a ‘black box’ for future Mars landings, helping engineers understand the process of getting spacecraft to safely land on Mars.

However, MarCOs will not conduct any scientific mission or help InSight send its data back to Earth. The satellites are designed to demonstrate the first test of CubeSat technology beyond Earth’s orbit.

The probes will also demonstrate their ability to further explore the solar system.

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Nasa JPL MarCO chief engineer Andy Klesh said: “These are our scouts.

“CubeSats haven’t had to survive the intense radiation of a trip to deepspace before or use propulsion to point their way towards Mars. We hope to blaze that trail.”

Nasa also noted that both MarCOs will use a compressed gas commonly found in fire extinguishers to propel themselves around space.

Last month, US-based Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems inserted each of the CubeSats into a special dispenser that will propel them into space.

The MarCOs will use batteries to deploy their solar arrays.