Science & Technology

Chinese Mars rover seen from orbit … and from the surface!

China’s Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong Rover are being monitored from both Martian orbit and above ground. The China Space Agency today released a series of photographs, including portraits of the rover and lander family taken with a wireless remote camera. And look at that cute rover’s face!

Jurong Rover close-up crop. Credit: CNSA.

Zhurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters (33 feet) from the landing platform and was returned to the lander for a portrait of the group. CNSA said..

After spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet, China landed a Tianwen-1 lander and rover on the Martian Plain, known as the Utopia Planitia, on May 14, 2021. Other photos published by CNSA included a panoramic view of the lander and its surroundings, as well as another panoramic view of the rover and lander from the rover’s mast camera.

The lander of Tianwen-1 that brought the rover to the surface of Mars. The wheel track from the rover is visible on the ground. Credit: CNSA.

However, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and HiRISE cameras also captured stunning views from the orbits of China’s missions on the surface of the planet this week.

Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong Mars rover in the southern part of the Utopia Planitia. Credits: NASA / JPL / UArizona

“HiRISE acquired this image on June 6, 2021.” HiRISE Senior Researcher Alfred McEwen wrote on the HiRISE website.. “We can clearly see what we interpret as a lander surrounded by blast patterns. After getting off the lander, the rover itself is a bit south.”

McCueen added that the image shows a smooth, almost rock-free area with surrounding terrain that is very typical of the southern Utopia Planitia. The bright curve is characterized by aeolian (wind-blown) terrain.

The Rover photo also shows a view of the surrounding plains.

View of the Utopia Plains from the Zhurong Rover. Credit: CNSA.

CSNA said that photography from the surface shows its mission to be “total success,” but some science is also happening. The rover Zhurong has been working on the surface of Mars to “detect the environment, move around the surface, and carry out scientific exploration.” CNSA has all the scientific equipment on board the Rover powered on, “Orbiter operates in a relay orbit with a period of 8.2 hours, providing relay communications for the scientific exploration of the Mars Rover.” Said.

The rover Zhurong is named after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology.

A panoramic view of a Chinese rover and lander ramping together on the surface of Mars. Credit: CNSA.

Chinese Mars rover seen from orbit … and from the surface! Chinese Mars rover seen from orbit … and from the surface!

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