New images from orbit and from Mars’ surface show the Zhurong rover on the move. China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) released new pictures and video this week, and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has followed the rover’s movements from above.
The image above shows wheel tracks left behind by the Zhurong rover.
“As of the morning of (June) 27th … the ‘Zhurong’ rover has been working on the surface of Mars for 42 Martian days and has traveled 236 meters in total,” CNSA said in a press release. “The orbiter and the rover are in good working condition. (They are) reporting safety from Mars to the Party and the motherland, sending distant blessings at the time of the Communist Party of China centennial.”
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July 1 will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
You may recall that on June 1, Zhurong moved to place a wireless camera on the ground, and then went back to take a self-portrait of itself and the lander. That movement is now shown and documented in footage of the rover reversing, and seemingly backing itself into the sunset, and maneuvering into place next to the lander.
The Tianwen-1 mission is China’s first Mars mission, and consists of an orbiter, and lander and the rover. The spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit in February, after a seven-month flight following the launch in July 2020.
In May, Zhurong, drove off a landing platform and onto the surface of Mars. The surface mission is expected to last about three months.
Meanwhile, from orbit, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera has seen evidence of the rover’s movements. In this false color image, the landing site remains “distinctly colored from removal of Martian dust during landing and movement of the Zhurong rover toward the south can be seen,” the HiRISE team wrote.
HiRISE has taken images a couple of times (this one on June 11, the other on June 6) and with those two images the team was able to create a create a three-dimensional stereo view of the lander. This image should be viewed with red/blue glasses to reveal the lander, as well as the gently rolling plains in southern Utopia Planitia on Mars.