PASADENA, CA—As part of ongoing preparations for a manned mission to the Red Planet, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Wednesday that its autonomous Mars Roomba vehicle had landed safely and commenced the task of cleaning dust from the planet’s surface.
A NASA spokesperson confirmed that the circular, 1,900-pound, self-navigating vacuum had survived the 8-month journey from Earth with all vital sweeping and suction systems intact and had already begun removing iron oxide particles and small debris from the approximately 55.9 million square miles of Martian terrain.
“We’re pleased to say that after years of planning, the Mars Roomba is finally hard at work cleaning some of the dustiest parts of the Red Planet,” said senior engineer James Wurzburg, describing the jubilant scene at mission control after the Roomba successfully touched down and immediately started vacuuming loose pebbles and dust kicked up by its retrorockets during descent. “Everything from the bristle brushes to the satellite mapping software is currently functioning as designed. In fact, the Roomba has already made significant progress in tidying up the Schiaparelli Crater.”
“At this rate, we project that the entire planet will be spick and span by the time the first astronauts arrive,” added Wurzburg.