The launch of InSight Mars, a NASA mission to land on the planetary surface to study the interior of the planet Mars (InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will now have some co-payloads with it as it is launched from the Vandenberg launch site in California atop an Atlas V rocket in March 2016. For also aboard will be two MarCO 6U (2 x 3U) cubesat craft made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. While formally technology demonstration craft, the MarCO spacecraft pair will stay in Martian orbit and will supply a back-up relay service to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to relay the Insight Mars mission’s signals back to Earth.
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