The first images captured by China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 during and after the country’s first landing on the Red Planet were released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Wednesday.
The probe sent back a video taken by a camera on the orbiter, showing how the lander and the rover separated from the orbiter during landing. It also sent back two photos taken by the rover Zhurong, after landing, according to the administration.
The first photograph, a black and white image, was taken by an obstacle avoidance camera installed in front of the Mars rover. The image shows that a ramp on the lander has been extended to the surface of Mars. The terrain of the rover’s forward direction is clearly visible in the image, and the horizon of Mars appears curved due to the wide-angle lens.
The second image, in colour, was taken by the navigation camera. The rover’s solar panels and antenna are seen unfolded, and the red soil and rocks on the Martian surface are clearly visible in the image.
The CNSA said Zhurong is now preparing to leave the lander and come down to the surface of Mars.
“Later on, our Mars rover will carry out the mission of patrolling and exploring the Mars surface. The rover will come down from the lander, check its status and plan the path. Then it will conduct scientific exploration in accordance with our set goals,” said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of China’s Mars exploration mission.
The lander of China’s first Mars probe Tianwen-1 touched down on the red planet on Saturday morning, as confirmed by CNSA, marking a historic achievement for the country’s space program.
Tianwen-1 landed at a designated area at the southern part of the Utopia Planitia area on Mars, marking the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.
The name Tianwen, meaning asking the Heaven, comes from a poem written by the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan (around 340-278 BC). China’s first Mars rover is named Zhurong after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology, which echoes with the Chinese name of the red planet: Huoxing (the planet of fire).