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Satnews Daily
March 21st, 2018

Cal Poly Readies for Red and Preps Two Smallsats to Travel to Mars

Two small satellites that underwent testing and preparation at Cal Poly will soon be sent on a mission to Mars.

One of the two CubeSats that will be sent to Mars in May. (Photo courtesy Cal Poly)

The satellites, called CubeSats, will be moved to Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday in preparation for a NASA launch in May.

They're described as being about the size of a briefcase — 12 inches tall, 4 inches deep and 8 inches wide.

These particular CubeSats are communications-relay satellites named Mars Cube One (MarCO). They arrived at Cal Poly in late February. Since then, engineers have worked on inserting them into the deployment boxes that will eject them into space.

The launch is currently scheduled for May 5 at 4 a.m.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will also carry NASA's InSight lander into space. InSight's mission is to study Mars' interior using seismological and geophysical instruments, helping to answer questions about how the planet was formed.

It will take about six months for InSight and MarCO to reach the red planet.

MarCO's mission will be to help relay transmissions from the InSight lander back to Earth.

For more information on the Mars InSight Mission, click here.

Scientists and engineers with NASA will be touring California before the launch. They'll make a couple of stops in San Luis Obispo in April and be in Santa Maria and Lompoc in May. For the complete schedule, click here.

by Katherine Worsham, KSBY.com