Zhurong Rover returns the first photo

Front view from rover

The front view shows the flat landscape of the Utopia Planitia

China has released the first photo taken by Zhurong Rover on Mars.

The front view shows the landscape in front of the robot as it sits on the landing platform. The backward-looking image shows a congratulatory solar panel.

Rover landed on the Red Planet early Sunday in Beijing time.

By doing so, China became the second country after the United States, and succeeded in installing a spacecraft on the surface of Mars and operating it for a considerable period of time.

Chinese scientists want at least 90 Mars services available from six-wheeled robots on the Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in the northern hemisphere of the planet.

Rear view

The rear view shows the deployed solar panel and communication antenna.

Zhurong is very similar to the Spirit and Opportunity Vehicle of the US Space Agency (Nasa) in the 2000s. It weighs about 240 kg and is equipped with a foldable solar array.

The tall mast is equipped with a camera to take pictures and assist in navigation. Five additional instruments investigate the mineralogy of local rocks and the general nature of the environment, including weather.

Like today’s American rover (Curiosity and Perseverance), Congratulations has laser tools for zapping rocks and assessing their chemistry. Radar looks for underground water ice.

The Utopia Planitia is where Nasa landed the Viking 2 mission in 1976.

A huge basin with a diameter of over 3,000 km, formed by the early impacts of Mars’ history.

There is some evidence that it had the sea long ago.

Remote sensing by satellite shows that there is considerable ice storage in the depths.

Successful landing

Successful landing

Artwork rover

Artwork: Zhurong is similar to Nasa’s Spirit and Opportunity Vehicle

The United States launched its latest rover, Perseverance, in February.

Europe, which failed twice in landing attempts, will send a rover called Rosalind Franklin to Mars next year (in a joint project with the Russians).

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