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New Images of Mars Unveiled

Jun 16, 2021

 

The China National Space Administration makes public four pictures taken by the Tianwen 1 robotic mission on June 11, 2021. [Photo/China National Space Administration] 

China to share scientific findings to benefit people around the world 

The China National Space Administration made public on Friday four pictures taken by the Tianwen 1 robotic mission, showing the Zhurong rover on the Martian surface and scenes of its landing site.

Three pictures were taken by Zhurong's cameras, and displayed the rover's upper stage, its landing platform and the environment of the landing site. Another one was shot by a separate camera deployed by Zhurong on Martian soil, showing the rover and the landing platform together.

A fabric Chinese national flag and a drawing of mascots of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games are noticeable in the landing platform's picture. Also in this photo, the tracks of Zhurong on the surface can be clearly seen.

The group photo of Zhurong and the landing platform was created by a small camera, which was originally attached to the bottom of the rover and then placed on Martian soil when the rover traveled about 10 meters to the south of its landing platform.

 

The China National Space Administration makes public four pictures taken by the Tianwen 1 robotic mission on June 11, 2021. [Photo/China National Space Administration] 

After dropping the camera, Zhurong moved back toward the platform. The process was recorded by the camera, which transmitted the video and pictures to the rover via radio signals.

The backdrop in these photos is the reddish, barren Martian surface, on which Tianwen 1's landing capsule touched down on May 15 in the southern part of the Utopia Planitia, a large lava plain within the largest known impact basin in the solar system.

The pictures were released at a ceremony held by the space administration at its Beijing headquarters.

Zhang Kejian, director of the administration, said at the ceremony that China will share the scientific findings from its space missions with other nations to benefit all people around the world.

 

The China National Space Administration makes public four pictures taken by the Tianwen 1 robotic mission on June 11, 2021. [Photo/China National Space Administration] 

As of Friday, Zhurong has been working on the planet for 28 Martian days to carry out scientific exploration.

The robot is now hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth. It is the sixth rover on Mars, following five others launched by the United States.

With an expected life span of at least 90 Martian days, the 240-kilogram Zhurong is tasked with surveying Mars' landforms, geological structures, soil characteristics, potential locations of water and ice, and atmospheric and environmental characteristics, as well as magnetic, gravitational and other physical fields.

The 1.85-meter-tall robot is propelled by six wheels and powered by four solar panels, and can move at 200 meters an hour on the Martian surface.

 

The China National Space Administration makes public four pictures taken by the Tianwen 1 robotic mission on June 11, 2021. [Photo/China National Space Administration] 

Tianwen 1, named after an ancient Chinese poem, was launched by a Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket on July 23 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southernmost island province of Hainan, kick-starting China's first mission to another planet.

Driven by a combination of 48 large and small engines, the spacecraft traveled more than 470 million km and carried out four midcourse corrections and a deep-space trajectory maneuver before entering the orbit of Mars on Feb 10.

On Feb 24, Tianwen 1 entered a preset parking orbit above Mars and maintained that orbit to examine the predetermined landing site until May 15, when it descended to a lower orbit to release the landing capsule, which touched down on the Martian surface after a succession of sophisticated maneuvers. (China Daily)

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