Two Days Till Mars for MarCO
NASA's twin MarCO spacecraft are scheduled to make a flyby of Mars on Nov. 26. On Nov. 24, a wide-angle camera on MarCO-B took this picture of the Red Planet, which appears as a small, grey dot in the lower left quadrant of the image. On the right side of the image is the spacecraft's high-gain antenna. On the left side is the high-gain antenna feed, as well as part of the spacecraft's thermal blanket.
MarCO-B was approximately 310,000 miles (500,000 km) away from Mars at the time. Mars is actually only about 3 pixels wide in this image, but because of blurring it appears larger.
An annotated version of this image notes the location of Mars, the high-gain antenna, high-gain antenna feed and thermal blanket.
Each about the size of a briefcase, the MarCO spacecraft are CubeSats, or small satellites built from standardized units that are 4 inches (10 cm) square. (Each MarCO satellite consists of six CubeSat units.) The MarCOs are the first CubeSats to reach deep space, and were the first CubeSats to photograph Mars.
The MarCO and InSight projects are managed for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.