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China's Zhurong Mars Rover Beams Back First Selfie From Red Planet

Image credits: China National Space Administration.

Image credits: China National Space Administration.

The selfie was part of the unveiling ceremony where CNSA released the first batch of scientific images taken by the Tianwen-1 rover on Martian surface.

China National Space Administration’s (CNSA) first Mars rover Zhurong, which made its landing on the red planet last month, seems to be settling in quite well. On Friday, the rover sent its first selfie from Mars where it was seen spreading its solar panel like wings and looking ahead with its two cameras that gave the impression of eyes. The pictures were shared by CNSA on their website. The selfie was part of the unveiling ceremony where CNSA released the first batch of scientific images taken by the Tianwen-1 rover on the Martian surface. The series of images included a panoramic view of the landing site, the topography of Mars and the “Chinese Imprint” picture taken by the Zhurong rover that shows the landing platform with China’s national flag. The Chinese space agency dubbed the Zhurong selfie as the “tour group photo."

In its description, CNSA revealed that the Zhurong selfie was taken after the rover travelled about 10 meters south of the landing platform. To capture the image, the rover released a separate camera installed at the bottom of the vehicle. After releasing the camera, the rover retreated to the vicinity of the landing platform as the camera took pictures of the movement of the rover and the landing platform. CNSA mentioned that the image was transmitted to Zhurong through wireless signal, and then relayed back to the Earth by the rover through the orbiter.

The Tianwen-1 mission’s lander carrying the rover touched down at the southern part of Utopia Planitia on the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15. The first picture after its landing was shared by the rover last month. The black and white image, taken by the obstacle avoidance camera installed in front of Zhurong, showed a ramp on the lander that unfolded on the rugged surface of Mars in the foreground. The background of the rough Martian terrain could be seen in the picture while the horizon of the planet looked spherical due to the wide-angle lens installed in the camera.

China’s Zhurong rover is the third international mission to space that made its landing this year. The first two were by Saudi Arabia’s Hope Probe and the United States’ Perseverance mission.

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first published:June 12, 2021, 17:47 IST