NASA might be taking photos of the Martian surface with a helicopter, but they’re used to this sort of thing. China’s Zhurong rover is doing much the same, only it’s a bit lower-tech than the American effort. China’s first rover has sent back its first selfie, as well shots of the lander and the surface of Mars.
Zhurong, and thanks for all the fish
The images were snagged in a variety of ways. The weirdly haunting image of the country’s Mars lander was shot by the Zhurong rover itself, using its on-board cameras. The horizon shows some mountainous regions in the background and the rover’s tracks are visible in the lower right. But it’s the other image that’s really impressive.
It shows China’s rover standing side-by-side with its lander — the China National Space Agency (CNSA) calls it a “touring group photo”. It was taken using a small wireless camera that was placed by the rover before it lined up for the shot, just like any tourist in a strange place with members of their family. It’s hard not to anthropomorphise Zhurong when it just looks so darned excited to be in one of its own photos.
The Chinese mission to Utopia Planitia is set to run over 90 days, studying geological features of the planet, but it’ll likely outlast its mission time. As long as they don’t explode on contact, most Mars missions tend to stick around for a while.