The top-secret China National Space Administration released five new images of Mars taken by its Zhurong rover on Friday, including rocks on the surface of Mars and the vehicle’s tire tracks.
The first image, taken on June 26, shows the landscape of Mars with what appears to be the surface component detector and climate detector from the rover as it crosses Utopia Planitia, a large northern lava plain on the red planet.
The second image, snapped on July 4, the rover’s 48th day on the planet, also shows the surface of Mars.
The third and fourth images show both rocks on the surface, as well as what appear to be tire tracks left by the rover in the wake.
The final color image also shows tire tracks as well as rovers solar panels and antenna.
The image release comes as a bit of a surprise given that China̵
Zhurong successfully touched Utopia Planitia, a large northern lava plain on the Red Planet on 15 May.
The first image taken on June 26 shows the landscape of Mars with what appears to be the surface component detector and climate detector from the rover as it crosses Mars
The second image, snapped on July 4, the rover’s 48th day on the planet, also shows the surface of Mars
It left Earth in July 2020 inside China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which entered Mars’ orbit in February.
Zhurong is named after the Chinese fire god and has spent 54 days on Mars, after traveling more than 300 meters (984 feet) according to the Chinese news service CGTN.
During his time on the red planet, Zhurong has traveled south and wired detections using his navigation camera to take pictures of the landscape of Mars.
It has used its surface search radar, meteorology monitor and magnetic field detector instruments to conduct scientific experiments, CGTN added.
The third image (released July 9) shows rocks on the surface of Mars, as the rover has traveled more than 300 meters since landing in mid-May
The fourth image (released July 9) also shows rocks on the surface, as well as what appear to be tire tracks left by the rover in the wake
The final color image also shows tire tracks as well as rovers solar panels and antenna and the landscape of Mars
Zhurong was touched at 7:18 Beijing time on May 15 (12:18 BST), though it took more than an hour before land inspectors were able to confirm that the landing was a success, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese officials use the rover, named after the Chinese god of fire, to analyze Mars Earth and atmosphere, take pictures, map maps and look for water and signs of ancient life.
The rover has a number of instruments on it and is able to communicate with Earth via Tianwen-1 circuits that have a ‘high speed data rate’.
In addition, it also has a number of other tools, including Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) imagined up to 330ft below the surface of Mars; Mars Surface Magnetic Field Detector (MSMFD) to find evidence of a magnetic field and track it; and the Mars Meteorological Measuring Instrument (MMMI) to study Mars’ weather on the red planet.
Other instruments, such as the Mars Surface Compound Detector (MSCD), Multi-Spectrum Camera (MSC) and Navigation and Topography Camera (NTC), measure the chemical composition of rocks, image light wavelengths and capture images and map the surface, respectively.
Chinese officials use the rover to analyze Mars’ soil and atmosphere, capture images, maps and look for water and signs of ancient life
The lander carrying Zhurong completed the treacherous descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute to navigate the ‘seven minutes of terror’ as it is known.
The complicated landing process is known as such because it happens faster than radio signals can reach Earth from Mars, which means that communication is limited.
Zhurong’s touchdown made China the first country to carry out an orbiting, landing and robbing operation during its first mission to Mars – a feat not comparable to the only two other nations to reach the red planet so far (the United States and Russia).
In May, President Xi Jinping sent his’ warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all members who have participated in Mars’ investigative mission ‘, Xinhua reported.
China has now sent astronauts into space, propelled the moon and returned the first lunar examples to Earth in more than 45 years and landed a rover on Mars.
In April, it also launched Tianhe, the main episode of what will be a permanent space station aimed at competing with the International Space Station (ISS).
CHINA PRINTS PLANS TO BECOME SPACE POWER WITH MARCH AND MOON MISSIONS
Officials from the Chinese space agency are working to become a space power along with the United States and Russia.
They have already sent the first lander to explore the other side of the Moon – sharing photos from the part of our nearest neighbor that we rarely see as part of the Chang’e-4 mission.
In November 2020, they sent the Chang’e-5 space probe to the Moon to collect and return the first samples of the moon’s earth in 45 years.
This was done in collaboration with the European Space Agency, which provided tracking information to the Chinese spacecraft.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the Moon’s South Pole and is expected to launch in 2023 or 2024.
Chang’e-7 will examine the land surface, the composition, the space environment in an overall mission according to the Chinese space authority, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
China is also reportedly working to build a lunar base using 3D printing technology and send a future manned mission to the surface.
Mission number eight is likely to lay the groundwork for this, as it strives to control the technology earmarked for the project.
The CNSA is also building a space station orbiting the Earth where Chinese astronauts will perform scientific experiments similar to the crew on the ISS.
The agency also launched a mission to Mars in the summer of 2020 and landed a rover on the red planet in May 2021.
China is also said to be working on a project to build a solar energy generator in space that would radiate energy back to Earth and become the largest man-made object in orbit.
They also have a number of ambitious space science projects, including satellites to hunt for signs of gravity waves and Earth observation spacecraft to monitor climate change.