Chinese Mars Mission Sends Photos of the Red Planet

Tianwen-1 spacecraft in orbit around Mars. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — The China National Space Administration published on Saturday four pictures taken by its Tianwen 1 Mars mission, including the first full photo of the mission orbiter.

The color pictures show the orbiter flying around the Red Planet in an orbit, the ice cover on Mars’ north pole and a scene of a barren Martian plain.

Tianwen-1 spacecraft in orbit around Mars. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

The orbiter’s full picture was taken by a camera released by the craft, which is now about 350 million kilometers away from Earth, the administration said in a statement.

Launched in July 2020 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, the Tianwen 1 robotic probe, named after an ancient Chinese poem, traveled a total of 475 million kilometers and carried out several trajectory maneuvers before entering Martian orbit on Feb 10.

Martian north pole (Credit: China National Space Administration)

After over three months of preparations, a landing capsule released by the probe descended through the Martian atmosphere in an extremely challenging landing process and finally touched down on the Red Planet on May 15, making China the second country, after the United States, to have successfully conducted Martian landing.

On May 22, the Chinese rover Zhurong traveled onto the Martian soil, becoming the sixth rover on Mars, following five predecessors from the US.

As of Saturday morning, the 1.85-meter-tall, 240-kilogram Zhurong had worked on Martian land for 224 days – far outliving its three-month life expectancy. The rover had traveled more than 1,400 meters.

Martian surface (Credit: China National Space Administration)

The Tianwen 1 mission has obtained and transmitted nearly 540 gigabytes of data, mission controllers at the China National Space Administration said, adding it still has sufficient energy and is in good condition.