Photos show Chinese rover on dusty, rocky Martian surface

The dusty, rocky surface of Mars and a Chinese rover and a Chinese lander with small national flags could be seen in photos posted Friday that the rover was taking on the red planet.

The four images released by the China National Space Administration also show the upper stage of the Zhurong rover and the view from the rover before it rolled off its platform.

Zhurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters from the landing pad and then withdrew to take a group portrait, the CNSA said.

An image captured by a camera of the Chinese Mars rover Zhurong showing the rover and landing platform on the surface of Mars, June 11, 2021.China National Space Administration / AFP – Getty Images

China landed the Tianwen-1 spacecraft with the rover on Mars last month after orbiting the red planet for about three months. China is the second country after the US to land and operate a space probe on Mars.

The orbiter and lander both display small Chinese flags and the lander has outlines of the mascots for the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics 2022.

The six-wheeled rover explores an area known as Utopia Planitia, specifically looking for signs of water or ice that could provide clues as to whether Mars ever lived.

With a height of 1.85 meters, Zhurong is significantly smaller than the US rover Perseverance, which explores the planet with a tiny helicopter. NASA expects its rover to take its first sample in July for return to Earth as early as 2031.

An image of the Chinese Mars rover Zhurong showing the landing platform on the surface of Mars, June 11, 2021.China National Space Administration / AFP – Getty Images

In addition to the Mars mission, China’s ambitious space program plans to send the first crew to its new space station next week. The three crew members plan to stay at Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony Station for three months, which is far longer than any previous Chinese mission. You will do space walks, construction and maintenance work, and conduct scientific experiments.

Further launches are planned to expand the station, send supplies and swap crews. China has also brought lunar samples, the first since the 1970s on a country’s space program, landing a probe and rover on the lesser-explored far side of the moon.

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