China reveals first Mars photos taken by the Zhurong rover

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The Chinese space agency has released the first photos taken by the Zhurong rover on Mars, showing parts of its lander and the red planet itself. The Tianwen-1 mission arrived at its destination on May 15, making China the second country after the US to land successfully on Mars. One of the photos is a colored image (above) taken by the navigation camera mounted on the back of the rover. It features Zhurong’s solar panels and unfolded antennas, along with views of the planet’s red earth and rocks.

The other photo (below) is a black and white photo taken by a camera to avoid obstacles installed in front of the rover. It was captured with a wide-angle lens, so it shows not only a slope from the lander that extends to the surface of the planet, but also the horizon of Mars. In addition to the two images, the mission probe returned a video showing how the lander and rover separated from the orbiter during the landing.

NASA administrator Senator Bill Nelson congratulated the Chinese space agency in a statement:

Congratulations to the China National Space Administration for receiving the first images of the Zhurong Mars rover! As the international scientific community of robot explorers on Mars grows, the United States and the world are looking forward to the discoveries Zhurong will make to “The Red Planet. I look forward to future international discoveries that will help inform and develop the capabilities needed to land human boots on Mars.”

On May 21 or 22, Zhurong will make his way down the slopes seen in the black and white photo to join NASA’s curiosity and persistence on the surface. It will explore a part of the planet called Utopia Planitia, using its six instruments to study the region’s geology and climate.

This story by M. Moon originally appeared on Engadget.

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