China releases first images of Mars taken by Zhu Rong rover

By Eduardo Baptista
The red soil and rocks of the Martian surface are clearly visible in this image taken by China’s Zhu Rong rover. Photo: CNSA

China has issued the first pictures taken by its Zhu Rong Mars rover, which touched down on the red planet on Saturday.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) released the images on Wednesday. The forward view shows the landscape ahead of the robot as it sits on its landing platform, while the rear-looking image shows Zhu Rong’s solar panels.

China’s state media said the images provided “conclusive proof” that Zhu Rong had not been damaged during the landing stage.

This shot was captured by an obstacle avoidance camera installed in front of the Mars rover. Photo: CNSA

There had been some debate on social media that the reason the CNSA had not released any pictures of the Martian surface was because Zhu Rong had met an untimely end.

The Chinese rover is not alone on Mars. Nasa’s Curiosity and Perseverance are also there.

On April 20, Perseverance succeeded in extracting oxygen from the planet’s carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, a feat never before achieved.

Zhu Rong’s mission comes as China is racing to catch up with the United States in space technology. In recent years, China has launched the world’s first quantum satellite, made a soft landing on the far side of the moon and brought lunar samples back using a purely robotic mission.

It has also begun building its own space station. CCTV said late on Wednesday that the launch of Tianzhou-2 – a cargo spacecraft that will transfer fuel and supplies to Tianhe, the space station’s core module that was launched on April 28 – would take place about 1am on Thursday.

The launch will be the second of 11 scheduled for this year and next as the space station takes shape.


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