First images from China's Tianwen-1 Mars lander released
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has released images received from its Tianwen-1 Mars lander. The still and animated images sent from the Red Planet confirm the lander's successful touchdown in the Utopia Planitia region on May 14.
Though the Tianwen-1 lander carrying the Zhurong rover made an autonomous landing on the Martian surface last week, these are the first images of the landing to be released.
China is the fourth nation to attempt a landing on Mars, and only the second to do so successfully. The Soviet Union landed its Mars 3 probe in 1971, but it ceased transmission after only 20 seconds. In 1976, the United States successfully set down Viking 1 and Viking 2, and has followed up with several more successful landers and rovers. Britain tried to land Beagle 2 in 2003, only for it to fail to deploy its antenna properly, preventing communications.
The images from Tianwen-1 were captured from different cameras on the lander and the rover, showing the deployed rover ramp, the solar panel wing of Zhurong, and the surrounding terrain. The animated images showed the separation of the lander as seen from the orbiter that delivered it to Mars.
CNSA says that the orbiter has shifted into a new orbit to act as a communications relay between the lander, the rover, and Earth, and the rover is currently being prepared to roll off the lander.
"Congratulations to the China National Space Administration on receiving the first images from the Zhurong Mars rover," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "As the international scientific community of robotic explorers on Mars grows, the United States and the world look forward to the discoveries Zhurong will make to advance humanity’s knowledge of the Red Planet. I look forward to future international discoveries, which will help inform and develop the capabilities needed to land human boots on Mars."