The China National Space Administration has released new images of Mars taken by China’s first rover, Zhurong. Among them is a panoramic image of the landscape of Mars, as well as a photo of the rover and the landing platform, taken by a tiny module with a camera, which was released on the Martian surface a few meters from them. The images were released on the CNSA website.
The Zhurong arrived on Mars with the Tianwen-1 orbital probe and landed in the southern Utopia Plain in May this year, demonstrating China’s ability to carry out complex landing operations.
The rover should work on Mars for at least 90 Martian days (sols) and conduct research on the structure and composition of the surface of Mars, in particular, to look for deposits of water ice.
To accomplish these tasks, the rover is equipped with seven instruments – three cameras, a ground-penetrating radar, a spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a weather station.
To date, the orbital probe is successfully operating in a relay orbit, and the rover has worked 28 sols on the surface of Mars. Earlier, Zhurong sent images confirming the fact of a trip to the surface of Mars from the landing platform, and on June 11, the mission team published color panoramas and images transmitted by the rover to Earth along with the first scientific data.
The 360-degree panoramas were taken by a navigation camera mounted on the mast of the rover, they hit both the landing platform with the flag of China and the area around the vehicles, which is a relatively flat area covered with small stones. The footage also includes traces of rover wheels and traces of exhaust from platform brake motors, as well as a dark rear shell and a white parachute used during the landing on Mars.
In addition, a selfie of the rover and the landing platform was posted, which was taken using a detachable camera. Rover first placed the camera on the surface of Mars and then moved to the desired point. In total, the mission possessed two such cameras – the first was used during the flight of spacecraft to Mars.
This is not the debut use of detachable cameras and survey satellites in astronautics. China also used similar equipment to capture the main module of the new Chinese orbital station. Another example, similar tech was used to capture the moment when the Hayabusa-2 probe collided with the asteroid Ryugu.
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• Bangkok Post. (n.d.). Rover leaves ‘China’s imprint’ on Mars.
• CNSA. (n.d.). The first batch of scientific images of the Tianwen 1 rover landing on Mars unveiled.
• Sanchez, K. (2021, June 11). China’s Zhurong rover sends a selfie from Mars.
• Yeung, J. (2021, June 11). China releases photos of its Mars rover on surface of the red planet.