China releases new images of Mars captured by Tianwen-1 probe
Beijing, Mar 4 (efe-epa).- The China National Space Administration (CNSA) released Thursday new images of Mars captured by its Tianwen-1 probe, which entered the orbit of the red planet last month and plans to land a rover in May.
The three photographs include two panchromatic views captured by the probe’s high-resolution camera and taken from a distance of between 330 and 350 kilometers (205-217 miles) above the surface of Mars, according to a video broadcast by state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday.
The images show the planet’s surface and morphology, including small craters, mountain ridges and dunes.
The diameter of the largest impact crater in the images is around 620 meters (2,034 feet), state-run agency Xinhua said.
The third is a color image, taken by a medium-resolution camera, and captures the planet’s North Pole region.
The CNSA had previously released two videos, of less than a minute each, captured when the Tianwen-1 probe, including an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, successfully entered the orbit after a nearly seven-month journey from Earth.
Tianwen-1 is China’s first exploration mission to Mars and the first in the world to include travel, orbit entry, and descent.
If the mission is successful, China will become the second country to operate a rover on Mars after the United States, which has sent four rovers.
The spacecraft will drop a lander and rover in Utopia Planitia, located in the northern hemisphere of Mars, in May to explore the Martian surface for three months.
Beijing has invested heavily in its space program in recent years, and the cost of the Mars mission is around $8,000 million.
Since its entry into orbit, Tianwen-1 teams have begun taking photographs and reconnaissance of Mars, as well as preparations to choose the best landing site.
Only the US and the former Soviet Union have achieved a successful soft landing on Mars.
The mission’s name comes from the poem “Tianwen” (Questions to Heaven) written by Qu Yuan (around 340 BC to 278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China
The probe was launched from the Wenchang space center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan on July 23, 2020. EFE-EPA