The Chinese rover Zhuong landed with a small camera on the surface of Mars, about 10 meters from the landing platform, and took a picture of the rover itself and the surface platform.
According to Michal Vaclavic, a local space expert from the Czech Space Office and the Czech Technical University in Prague, this is something no one expected.
To make matters worse, I’m adding two high-resolution panoramic photos taken by Zhuong Rover. pic.twitter.com/LPc6VBaxB2
– Michel Vaclavic (@Kosmo_Michal) June 11, 2021
China’s National Space Agency (CNSA) can now boast a “collective photo” of its device on our neighboring planet.
The Chinese Tiananmen 1 mission itself, which includes the Zhuong rover, landed on Mars last month after spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet.
The robotic rover successfully left the landing module in May and went to the surface of Mars for the first time. Then it happened after a week of preparations, so that the truck could get off safely on the ramp and begin its mission.
China became only the second country after the United States that managed to bring a device to the surface of Mars that would then work properly. According to Reuters, this is also the first time that a country has managed to put a satellite into orbit during its first mission to Mars and at the same time successfully land on the surface with a research vehicle.
US instrument prepares for first sampling
With a height of 1.85 metres, the Zhuzung is much smaller than the persevering American rover, which is examining the surface of Mars using an ingeniously small helicopter. NASA expects its rover to collect its first sample as early as July — to return to Earth in 2031, the Associated Press reports.
The Chinese rover operates in the Utopia Planitia region, that is, on a plain in the Northern Hemisphere, which according to previous surveys is probably covered with lava and possibly permafrost (permanently frozen soil). The American probe Viking 2 landed in this area in 1976.
There are now three US missions operating on Mars – the Insight Unit, Curiosity Rovers and the aforementioned Perseverance.
But for the Chinese, this mission to Mars is far from everything.
For example, their ambitious space program plans to send the first human crew to their new space station in Earth orbit as early as next week.