China has released a selfie taken by its Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars, in celebration of its first month on the Red Planet.
Zhurong can be seen with its landing platform in the background adorned with the Chinese flag, from which the rover rolled off at the end of May to begin its exploration.
Zhurong placed a remote camera about 33 feet (10 meters) from the landing platform, then withdrew to take a group portrait, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
Zhurong successfully touched down on Utopia Planitia, a vast northern lava plain on the Red Planet, on May 15, after it spent about three months orbiting the planet.
It blasted off from Earth in July 2020, tucked in the belly of China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which entered Martian orbit in February.
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In this image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Friday, June 11, 2021, the Chinese Mars rover Zhurong is seen near its landing platform taken by a remote camera that was dropped into position by the rover
Paul Byrne, a professor of Planetary Science at NC State University, tweeted: ‘Everybody!! The Chinese rover #zhurong carried a small wireless camera that it placed on the ground to take a group photo.
‘Look at the rover’s little face!’
Another photo released by CNSA today shows a crystal clear close-up of the landing platform amid the planet’s rocky red dust, as well as the landscape of Mars captured by Zhurong.
Eagle-eyed observers will notice outlines of the mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics next to the Chinese flag on the landing platform.
In this image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Friday, June 11, 2021, the landing platform with a Chinese national flag and outlines of the mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics on Mars is seen from the rover Zhurong. China on Friday released a series of photos taken by its Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars, including one of the rover itself taken by a remote camera
The landscape of Mars captured by Chinese rover Zhurong of the Tianwen-1 mission is seen in this image released by China National Space Administration (CNSA) June 11, 2021
The first photos taken by Zhurong – one in colour and one in black and white – prior to its descent from its landing platform were released by CNSA last month.
The front view of the rover, captured in black and white, shows the flat landscape of Utopia Planitia, which appears slightly curved in the horizon.
The second colour shot, showing the rear of the spacecraft, shows its unfolded solar panels and antennas.
In this black-and-white front shot taken by China’s Zhurong Mars rover and made available by the CNSA, extension arms and a departure ramp are deployed on the rover’s lander on the surface of Mars
In this CNSA photo taken by China’s Zhurong Mars rover, a rear view of the rover shows solar panels and antenna are deployed as the rover sits on its lander on the surface of Mars
Chinese officials plan to use the rover to analyse Martian soil and atmosphere, capture images, chart maps and look for water and signs of ancient life
INSTRUMENTS ON THE ZHURONG ROVER
The Zhurong rover communicates with Earth via the Tianwen-1 orbiter which has a ‘high speed data relay’.
Instruments on board the rover include a high-resolution camera that will be used for navigation and sharing images of the Red Planet surface.
Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) imagined up to 330ft below the surface of Mars
Mars Surface Magnetic Field Detector (MSMFD) to find evidence of a magnetic field and track it
Mars Meteorological Measurement Instrument (MMMI) to study the weather on the Red Planet
Mars Surface Compound Detector (MSCD) combines tools to study the chemical composition of rocks
Multi-Spectrum Camera (MSC) to take images in different wavelengths of light such as infrared and ultraviolet
Navigation and Topography Camera (NTC) to capture images and map the surface of the planet and help the rover determine where to travel
According to CGTN, the black-and-white shot was taken by a camera on the front of Zhurong, which effectively serves as an ‘eye’ for the rover to detect obstacles.
The two ‘arms’ near the top of the photo are parts of a radar system, while two rails, extending from the platform to the ground, help guide the rover.
Zhurong is surveying Utopia Planitia for signs of water or ice that could lend clues as to whether Mars ever sustained life.