China’s Mars probe captures stunning video of red planet
Beijing, Feb 13 (efe-epa).- China has released the first video footage of Mars captured by its spacecraft circling the red planet, days after the Tianwen-1 probe successfully entered the orbit after nearly a seven-month journey from Earth.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) released two stunning 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 two days ago.
The CNSA released the footage late on Friday that coincided with the first day of the lunar New Year in China.
“Tianwen-1 sent the New Year’s blessing from distant Mars,” the space agency noted on its website.
The videos show the probe’s slight vibration after the engine ignited.
Several craters are visible on the surface of Mars as the spacecraft begins to rotate in the elliptical orbit of the planet, which takes 10 Earth days.
Solar panels that supply power to the ship are also visible, oscillating with the spacecraft firing its main engines to slow down.
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 CNSA said in October last year that the site selected for the spacecraft’s landing is Utopia Planitia, a large plain within Utopia, the largest recognized impact basin on Mars and in the Solar System.
According to geologists, the site could be the bottom of an ancient ocean.
The spacecraft made up of a landing capsule, and an orbiter weighs five metric tons. It is also carrying a rover aboard.
Beijing has invested heavily in its space program in recent years, and the cost of the Mars mission is around $8,000 million.
The tasks of the rover include a study of the morphology, geological structure, soil characteristics, distribution of frozen water near the surface, its composition, and climatic conditions as well as analysis of the magnetic fields and internal structure of the planet.
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.
In January 2019, China managed to land the Chang’e-4 probe on the far side of the Moon, a milestone never achieved before in the history of lunar exploration.
By 2030, China plans to send another, larger probe to Mars to collect samples and bring them back to Earth and also has its sights set on sending humans to the red planet in the future. EFE-EPA