China’s first Mars rover has landed and is sending its first footage

China’s first Mars rover is taking within the view of its new dwelling. The Zhurong rover touched down on the Crimson Planet on Could 14, and its first photos reached Earth on Could 19.

Zhurong, named for an historical Chinese language god of fireside, has been orbiting the Crimson Planet since February 10, when China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft entered Martian orbit. The rover landed in an unlimited plain referred to as Utopia Planitia — additionally the place NASA’s Viking 2 lander touched down in 1976, though Viking 2’s website was a lot farther north (SN:  9/11/76).

The orbiter and rover collectively mark China’s first Mars mission and make China solely the second nation to efficiently land a rover there. China has beforehand landed two rovers on the moon, named Yutu and Yutu-2, with the Chang’e-Three and Chang’e-Four missions (SN: 1/3/19).

The Tianwen-1 orbiter captured a video of the lander and rover separating from the orbiter earlier than plunging into the Martian ambiance.

In contrast to NASA’s Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in February and beamed images again virtually instantly (SN: 2/17/21), Zhurong took just a few days to ship its first glimpses of the Martian floor again to Earth. That’s as a result of the rover needed to await the Tianwen-1 orbiter to maneuver right into a decrease orbit to permit it to relay extra information between Mars and Earth.

This picture was taken with Zhurong’s rear navigation digital camera. It exhibits the rover’s photo voltaic panels and antenna.CNSA

The primary photos are from Zhurong’s hazard avoidance and navigation cameras. For now, the rover continues to be perched atop its touchdown platform. After a number of days wanting round and trying out its devices, Zhurong will roll down the lander’s ramps and onto the Martian soil, presumably on Could 21 or 22, in response to a report from China’s state-run Xinhua information company after the touchdown.

Zhurong will spend no less than three months finding out the geology at Utopia Planitia and looking for water ice beneath the floor. The rover carries a ground-penetrating radar that may assist distinguish between rock and ice beneath the floor, just like a method utilized by the Yutu-2 rover on the moon (SN: 2/26/20).  It additionally carries an instrument to investigate floor chemistry.

The Tianwen-1 orbiter will stay lively for a full Martian yr (about 687 Earth days), observing the bottom from area with a high-resolution digital camera.

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