Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2021 April 1
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Mars Roomba Requests Extension Cord
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Mars Cleaning Service

Explanation: In 2018, NASA's Insight Lander deployed the first autonomous vacuum cleaner (AVC) on Mars. Its goal was to clean up all the martian dust, eliminating the regular occurrence of planet-wide dust storms and the need to sweep dust off solar panels powering martian landers and rovers. Earlier today, April 1, Insight contacted NASA controllers to report that the vacuum cleaner had come to the end of its electrical cord and had ceased surface cleaning operations. Unfortunately there is still a lot of dust left on the red planet. The martian vacuum cleaner further suggested that the soon-to-be-tested Ingenuity helicopter fly over an extension cord from the Perseverance rover landing site. Happy April Fool's Day from the folks at APOD! What is actually pictured is SEIS, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, deployed from Insight. Since 2018, SEIS has been a sensitive seismometer carefully listening for marsquakes to better understand the internal structure of Mars.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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