Escapade stands for Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers; the mission will orbit two Rocket Lab-built Photon spacecraft around Mars to understand the structure, composition, variability, and dynamics of Mars’ unique hybrid magnetosphere, Rocket Lab said.
The two Photons will conduct an 11-month interplanetary cruise before inserting themselves into elliptical orbits around Mars to begin the science phase. Both Photons incorporate satellite subsystems developed and manufactured by Rocket Lab, including star trackers, reaction wheels, ranging transceivers for deep space navigation, and in-space propulsion systems.
Escapade is the latest of three missions proceeding under the current round of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (Simplex) program to conduct compelling planetary space science with small satellites and provide more opportunities for flight experience to the science community, Rocket Lab added.
The mission is led by principal investigator Robert Lillis at the University of California, Berkeley, and managed by the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Division.
Following the merger with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Vector Acquisition Corporation, Rocket Lab will commence trading on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbols RKLB and RKLBW today.