China’s space agency has published new images taken by its Mars rover, including a panorama of the landing page where Zhurong first touched down to the red planet. The pictures comprise a selfie of the rover, which the China National Space Administration (CNSA) took using a specific, removable camera.
Zhurong left that approximately 33 feet away from the landing platform, together with the camera being deposited from the base of the rover. It then trundled back to pose, and the images were transferred using it as a relay into the Mars orbiter.
It’s been a rather busy year for Mars arrivals. NASA’s Perseverance rover — full using the Ingenuity Mars helicopter — touched down in Jezero Crater, while China’s Tianwen-1 delivered Zhurong into Utopia Planitia from the northern hemisphere of the planet. It landed May 15, and then drove down from the landing platform May 22, making China the second country to land and operate a rover on Mars.
Since that time, Zhurong has been project scientific exploration, together with the CNSA saying that all of the rover’s instruments are currently active. That is substantially faster than NASA has been waking up Perseverance’s systems, together with the US rover only just beginning to undertake its own science experiments. Nevertheless the expected lifespans of the two projects are very different.
Perseverance is expected to work for at least two years, though there’s the possibility for the NASA rover to continue beyond that first mission schedule. Zhurong, by comparison, has an expected lifespan of 90 Martian days, or around three Earth months, the Chinese space agency states. The orbiter with which it communicates with mission control back house has a design life of one Martian year, or around 687 Earth days.
Among China’s aims using the rover are to take high-resolution 3D images of the surface of Mars, and execute analysis of the makeup of the world’s rock. Additionally, it has tools to research sub-surface structure and potentially identify any traces of ice, in addition to the magnetic field on the planet.
It’s the next group of media in Mars that the CNSA has published because the rover landed, the first being released in mid-May. In addition to Zhurong’s very own shots, the agency also released images in the orbiter overhead, revealing the respective location of the rover and the landing pallor. You can even see signs of the parachute which slowed its descent, the CNSA says, and the entrance capsule which shielded Zhurong.