NASA Mars InSight Mission Visiting Cal Poly April 28

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Mars InSight Mission Roadshow is coming to the Cal Poly campus at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Chumash auditorium. The mission, led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will be the first to study the deep interior of the Red Planet.

The roadshow presentation comes ahead of InSight’s pre-dawn launch, which could occur as early as May 5, from Vandenberg Air Force Base — the first interplanetary mission to launch from Vandenberg and the West Coast. It is expected to land on Mars on Nov. 26

InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. Information from the mission is expected to advance understanding of how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved. The last NASA landing was the Curiosity rover, which landed at Gale crater on Aug. 5, 2014.

Featured speaker Troy Lee Hudson is a technologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His presentation about the mission will explain how the InSight robotic lander will help scientists make comparisons between seismic activity on Earth and Mars.

The Atlas V rocket that will loft InSight beyond Earth will also launch a separate NASA technology experiment: two mini-spacecraft called Mars Cube One, or MarCO. These briefcase-sized communication CubeSats will fly on their own paths to Mars behind InSight.

Their goal is to test new miniaturized deep-space communication equipment and, if the MarCOs make it to Mars, may relay back InSight data as it enters the Martian atmosphere and lands. This will be a first test of miniaturized CubeSat technology at another planet, which researchers hope can offer new capabilities to future missions.

Cal Poly engineering students assisted Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems and JPL in the preparation and testing of twin MarCO units. They are the first CubeSats to be used for an interplanetary purpose. Cal Poly has been at the forefront of the technology, helping to develop the standard as well as the devices that eject the satellites into space

In addition to the talk, an exhibit on the MarCO spacecraft will begin at 11:30 a.m. Visitors can talk with engineers from JPL and Tyvak as well as Cal Poly students involved in the project.

The InSight Roadshow will also visit the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum from Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29. Kids can get hands-on with models of the InSight spacecraft, Mars globe cutaways, use virtual reality headsets to see panoramas of the Red Planet and talk to NASA scientists and engineers.

For additional information about the Cal Poly event, call 805-756-2448 or visit http://www.physics.calpoly.edu/insight-mars. For more details about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/insight.

More information about NASA’s journey to Mars is available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars.

Contact: Dave Mitchell
805-756-5290; dsmitche@calpoly.edu
Posted: April 18, 2018

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