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Mars probe, China releases new videos, pics captured by Tianwen-1

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Sunday released new videos and photos captured by the country’s first Mars probe, Tianwen-1, during its landing and roving exploration on the red planet.

Four video clips were released for the first time. The first, captured on May 15, recorded the descent and landing process of the lander and rover. It shows the deployment of a parachute and a hazard-avoidance hover phase during the powered descent.

CGTN Infographic illustrating the descent and landing process of Tianwen-1’s lander and rover.

A second video clip showed the rover driving down from the landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22. Sounds of the vehicle rolling down the ramp of the lander and roving on Mars can be heard in the footage.

Two more videos, shot on June 1, recorded the rover driving around and having photos taken with the lander. The rover first moved forward to set up a Wifi camera, then drove back to stand alongside the lander and posed for a joint selfie of their front side. After that, it made a turn to have a photo taken from the sideway.

Selfie of the Zhurong rover (L) and the landing platform. /CNSA

This is the first time that videos of the rover’s movements on Mars have been seen.

On June 16, the rover conducted an overall assessment of its surrounding environment to plan its paths for subsequent scientific exploration. It sent back a panorama of the surrounding area.

A panorama sent back by Zhurong rover of its surrounding area on the Martian surface. /CNSA

A rear-view camera of Zhurong captured its tracks on the Martian surface.

Wheel tracks left by the Zhurong rover on the Martian surface. /CNSA

The Tianwen-1 system was launched on July 23, 2020.

On May 15, 2021, the lander, carrying the Zhurong rover, touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars. A week later, Zhurong separated from the lander and started exploring the red planet, making China the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars.

As of June 27, the orbiter of Tianwen-1 has been in flight for 338 days. The Zhurong rover has been working for 42 Martian days – one Martian day equals one day and 37 minutes on Earth – and has traveled a total of 236 meters on the red planet.

Both the orbiter and the rover are in good working conditions, the CNSA said.

Zhurong will continue its movement, detection and scientific exploration missions as planned.

Meanwhile, the orbiter, currently in a low orbit of the red planet, will continue to relay data between the Zhurong rover and the ground station on Earth, as well as conducting its own scientific detections.

(Video edited by CGTN’s Zhou Tingyu.)


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