China’s Zhurong rover sends back its first images from Mars

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A few days ago, on 15 May, China’s Tianwen-1 probe landed the country’s Zhurong rover on Mars. It marked the first attempt China had made to perform this particular feat and was also a success. Now, the newest rover on Mars has sent back its first images of the red planet.

Zhurong and thanks for all the fish

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has posted the first two images of Mars captured by its newest piece of expensive scientific equipment. Both reveal a section of the Martian landscape, as well as the rover itself deploying onto the planet’s surface. There’s a black-and-white shot showing the horizon and one that focuses on the rover itself — in colour because it looks better in the media. The image above shows the six-wheeled Zhurong rover’s solar panels and communications antennae in the process of unfolding.

If you head to the CNSA’s website, there is a very brief video of the separation of the Tianwen-1 lander from its orbiter unit before the landing itself. It’s nowhere near as exciting as NASA’s landing footage from earlier this year but the American’s have been doing this for a while now. Of course, they’re better at making videos at a distance of more than 300 million kilometres.

Zhurong occupies a little space in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars. It’s the first non-American rover to make the trip to Mars and live. Its geological mission is set for 90 days but, like previous rovers, it may last longer than that. Or maybe it’ll be struck by an asteroid in a freak accident. Probably the first one, though.

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