(CNSA/Disclosure via Xinhua)
BEIJING, Jun 11 (Xinhua) — The National Space Administration of China (CNSA) on Friday released new images taken by the country’s first Mars explorer Zhurong, showing the national flag on the red planet.
The images were released at a ceremony in Beijing, representing a complete success of China’s first Mars exploration mission.
Images include the landing site panorama, the Martian landscape and an explorer selfie with the landing platform.
The 360-degree panorama of the landing area was photographed when the rover had not yet left the landing pad. It was stitched together from a series of images that the rover’s navigation camera captured, showing the flat area around the landing site and the horizon of Mars in the distance.
The density and size of the rocks are within expectations, indicating that the probe’s landing, walking and autonomous obstacle avoidance went well, the CNSA said.
The rover captured the Martian landscape after it landed on the surface. The image shows that the nearby area is relatively flat and scattered with light colored, partially buried rocks of various sizes and smooth surface edges. On the other side is a circular crater with sharp dark colored rocks spreading around the rim. Several dunes are further away.
Another image shows China’s national flag unfurling from the glowing landing pad on the red planet, which was taken by the rover as it moved about six meters in a direction 60 degrees east south of the landing pad.
Zhurong also used a detachable camera to take a photo of itself with the landing platform. The camera, originally mounted on the bottom of the rover, was launched by the rover 10 meters south of the platform and captured the video showing the rover returning to the platform and taking the selfie. The camera then used a wireless signal to transmit the images and videos to the rover, which transported them back to Earth via the orbiter.
“China will publish related scientific data in a timely manner to allow humanity to share the fruits of the country’s space exploration development,” said Zhang Kejian, head of the CNSA.
China’s Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The landing module carrying the rover landed in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere from Mars on May 15th.
The Zhurong rover descended from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22, starting its exploration of the red planet and making China the second country to land and operate a rover on Mars after the US.
Until June 11, the rover worked on Mars for 28 Martian days. A Martian day is approximately 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth. The orbiter has relayed communications to the rover while conducting its own scientific detection operations.