The Chinese lander Tianwen-1 and the rover Zhurong are observed from the Mars orbit as well as from the surface! The Chinese space agency released a number of photos today, including a family portrait of the rover and lander captured by a wireless remote camera. And just look at that cute rover face!
Close-ups of the Zhurong rover. Photo credit: CNSA.
Zhurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters from the landing pad and was then driven back to the lander for a group portrait, the CNSA said.
China landed the Tianwen-1 lander and rover on May 14, 2021 on the Martian plain called Utopia Planitia after orbiting the Red Planet for about three months. Other images released by the CNSA included panoramic views of the lander, the surrounding area, and another panoramic view of the rover and lander together from the rover’s mast camera.
Tianwen-1 lander that brought the rover to the surface of Mars. The rover’s wheel tracks are visible on the ground. Photo credit: CNSA.
But also the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the NASA HiRISE camera captured a breathtaking view from the orbit of China’s mission on the planet’s surface this week.
Tianwen-1 Lander and Zhurong Rover in the southern Utopia Planitia. Photo credit: NASA / JPL / UArizona
“HiRISE captured this picture on June 6, 2021,” wrote Alfred McEwen, Senior Investigator for HiRISE, on the HiRISE website. “Clearly visible are what we interpret as the lander surrounded by an explosion pattern, and the rover itself a little south after it has dismounted from the lander.”
McEwen added that the image shows the surrounding terrain as very typical of the southern Utopia Planitia with a smooth and largely rock-free region. The bright curves are Aeolian (wind blown) landscapes.
The image of the rover also shows the view of the surrounding plain.
A view of Utopia Planitia from the Zhurong rover. Photo credit: CNSA.
While CSNA said the images from the surface show the mission was a “complete success,” there is also some scientific activity going on. The rover Zhurong works on the surface of Mars “to recognize the environment, to move on the surface and to conduct scientific explorations”. CNSA said all scientific equipment on board the rover was on and the “orbiter operates in 8.2 hour relay orbit providing relay communications for scientific exploration of the Mars rover.”
The rover Zhurong is named after the fire god in ancient Chinese mythology.
Panoramic view of the Chinese rover and landing ramp together on the surface of Mars. Photo credit: CNSA.