Having arrived on Mars in mid May, the Chinese Zhurong rover is sending us colour photographs of the Utopia Planitia region, including an amazing selfie taken using a camera positioned on the ground.
On Mars since 14 May 2021, the Chinese Zhurong rover went down from its landing platform to take its first drive in the Utopia Planitia region.
The Chinese space agency CNSA had kept pretty quiet about its first Martian rover’s activities and we had been waiting for new photographs. But on 11 June, several images were published, including an amazing selfie.
A 360° PANORAMA
Black and white photographs from the navigation cameras showed that Zhurong had successfully come down from its lander, using the double ramp intended for that purpose. On 11 June, CNSA re-appeared before this operation, broadcasting a complete panorama (360°), from the arrival area. This was taken by the camera located on the rover’s mast.
A SELFIE FROM SURFACE LEVEL
The most amazing image is, without question, this selfie which shows both the rover and its lander.
The Chinese agency explained that to take this image Zhurong moved 10 m south of its lander to place a camera on the surface. The rover then reversed for the photograph. The data was transmitted by radio waves from the camera to the rover before being sent to the Tianwen-1 probe around Mars which provides the connection to Earth.
The interesting photo of the lander by Zhurong is also notable.
For this photograph, Zhurong was 6 m from its lander according to CNSA. In addition to the Martian landscape, the imposing double ramp with the first prints of the rover’s wheels can be seen. Note the Chinese flag displayed on the side of the lander. Under this flag, it can be seen that the thruster used for landing has made a fairly large hole in the surface!