China posts new Mars photos from rover Zhu Rong, declares mission a success

·2 min read

China’s space authority has released four more pictures taken by its Mars rover and declared the probe mission a success on Friday.

The four photographs, which the authority posted on WeChat, included a panoramic view of the landing site, a look at the Martian soil, a shot of the landing platform, and another of the rover Zhu Rong and the landing platform together.

Sent back to Earth by radio waves via the orbiter, they showed that the landing site was largely flat, with small rocks and a round pit nearby. The panoramic view, extending to the Mars horizon, showed several dunes.

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The photo of the rover and landing platform was taken with a separate camera that the rover planted about 10 metres (30 feet) away. The camera also filmed the rover as it moved back to “pose” beside the platform, which was decorated with a banner showing Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon, the two mascots of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, as well as the national flag.

The China National Space Administration said the release of the latest pictures showed that the country’s first Mars mission had been a success.

“And China will release scientific data in a timely manner, so that all mankind can share the achievements of China’s aerospace development,” said Zhang Kejian, the administration’s director.

Zhu Rong – named after the Chinese mythical god of fire and war – landed on Mars on May 15, after a journey lasting nearly 10 months. It forms part of China’s first Mars probe, Tianwen-1, launched last July and comprising an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The probe reached Mars and started orbiting in February.

In recent years, China has launched the world’s first quantum satellite, made a soft landing on the far side of the moon and brought lunar samples back to Earth using a purely robotic mission. It has also started building its own space station.

Before China, only the United States and the former Soviet Union had managed a successful soft landing on the red planet, 319 million kilometres (198 million miles) from Earth.

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