Chinese Rover On Dusty, Rocky Martian Surface [Photos]

Chinese Rover On Dusty, Rocky Martian Surface [Photos]
Chinese Rover On Dusty, Rocky Martian Surface [Photos]

 

The dusty, rocky Martian surface and a Chinese rover and lander with small national flags were seen in photos released Friday the rover took on the red planet.

The four images released by the China National Space Administration also show the upper stage of the Zhurong rover and the view from the rover before it left its platform.

 

 

Zhurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters (33 feet) from the landing pad, then withdrew to take a group portrait, the CNSA said.

China landed the Tianwen-1 spacecraft carrying the rover on Mars last month after it spent about three months orbiting the red planet. China is the second country to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars, after the United States.

 

 

The orbiter and lander display small Chinese flags and the lander has the outlines of mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The six-wheeled rover is surveying an area known as Utopia Planitia, especially for signs of water or ice that may give clues as to whether Mars ever had life.

 

 

At 6 feet (1.85 meters) tall, Zhurong is significantly smaller than the US Perseverance rover that is exploring the planet with a small helicopter. NASA expects its rover to collect its first sample in July to return to Earth starting in 2031.

 

 

In addition to the mission to Mars, China’s ambitious space program plans to send the first crew to its new space station next week. The three crew members plan to stay for three months at Tianhe Station, or Heavenly Harmony, which far exceeds the duration of any previous Chinese mission. They will conduct spacewalks, construction and maintenance work, and conduct science experiments.

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Subsequent launches are planned to expand the station, send supplies, and exchange crews. China has also brought back lunar samples, the first from any country’s space program since the 1970s, that landed a probe and rover on the far less explored side of the moon.