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China releases new Mars image taken by Tianwen-1 probe
SOURCE: xinhua     UPDATED: 2021-06-11

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) Monday released a new image taken by the Tianwen-1 probe, showing the country's first Mars rover and its landing platform on the red planet's surface.

In the image, taken by a high-resolution camera installed on the orbiter of Tianwen-1 at 6 p.m. on June 2 (Beijing Time), two bright spots are visible in the upper right corner. The larger one is the landing platform, and the smaller one is the Zhurong Mars rover, the CNSA said.

China's Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The lander carrying the rover touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15.

The rover Zhurong drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22, starting its exploration of the red planet, and making China the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars.

The dark area surrounding the landing platform might be caused by the influence of the engine plume during landing. The symmetrical bright stripes in the north-south direction of the landing platform might be from fine dust when the landing platform emptied the remaining fuel after landing, the CNSA said.

The bright spots in the center of the image are the back cover of the entry capsule and the parachute jettisoned during the landing. Another bright spot in the lower left of the image is the heat shield of the entry capsule, the CNSA said.