China Releases Photo of Rover Probing Near Mars Landing Site

China released another photograph from its spacecraft that landed on Mars, showing the Zhurong rover cruising along the surface of the Red Planet.

The photograph shows the rover has started probing Mars, where it will explore the surface near the landing site as planned, according to a statement Saturday on the China National Space Administration’s website.

China’s Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The landing module from the Tianwen-1, which has been in orbit since February, touched down on Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, a week ago. The first pictures were sent back on Wednesday.

China Releases Photo of Rover Probing Near Mars Landing Site

The lander was carrying the Zhurong rover, named after an ancient Chinese god of fire. China is only the second country after the U.S. to send a rover to Mars. The device, which weighs 240 kilograms, can last three Martian months, about 92 days on Earth.

NASA’s Viking 2 visited Utopia Planitia in 1976, a few months after its twin, Viking 1, made history as the first probe to land safely on the planet. The U.S. space agency has sent several missions since then and its latest, the Perseverance rover, has been on the surface since Feb. 18. On April 19, the U.S. space program became the first to fly an aircraft, the Ingenuity helicopter, on another planet.

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