China’s space agency has published photos of Mars, taken by the Zhurong rover, showing parts of its lander and the red planet itself. On May 15th, the Tianwen-1 mission arrived at its destination, making China the second country after the United States to soft-land on Mars.
A colored picture (above) taken by the navigation camera mounted at the back of the rover is one of the images. It shows Zhurong’s solar panels and antennae unfolded, as well as the planet’s red soil and rocks.
The other image (below) was captured in black and white by an obstacle avoidance camera mounted in front of the rover. It was taken with a wide-angle lens, so it reveals not just the ramp from the lander to the planet’s surface, but also the Martian horizon. The mission probe also returned a video showing how the lander and rover separated from the orbiter during landing, in addition to the two images.
NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson congratulated China’s space agency in a statement:
“Congratulations to the China National Space Administration on receiving the first images from the Zhurong Mars rover! As the international scientific community of robotic explorers on Mars grows, the United States and the world look forward to the discoveries Zhurong will make to advance humanity’s knowledge of the Red Planet. I look forward to future international discoveries, which will help inform and develop the capabilities needed to land human boots on Mars.”
Zhurong will descend the ramps shown in the black-and-white photo on May 21st or 22nd to join NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance on the floor. It will travel to an area of the earth known as Utopia Planitia, where it will research the geology and atmosphere with its six instruments.