A new LEGO Spacecraft to Vote for: China's Long March 5 With the Tianwen-1 That Flew to Mars

A proposed Lego set of the Long March rocket and Tianwen-1. Credit: Lego.

Two Lego designers with a history of space-themed projects have teamed up for a new proposed set: China’s Long March CZ-5 and Tianwen-1 Mission. The set is currently gathering supporters on the LEGO Ideas website. If it gets enough support, LEGO will review it and possibly create it.

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Mars Orbiter Captures Images of China’s Rover From Space

The Chinese Zhurong rover landed on Mars in May 2021.This HiRISE image, acquired on 11 March 2022, shows the rover's new location. Credit: NASA/JPL/UofA

China’s Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover touched down on the Martian plain Utopia Planitia on May 14, 2021 after spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet. While the Chinese Space Agency has shared images of the rover and lander (including a cute family portrait taken by a wireless remote camera), NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been following the rover’s travels from above.

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Mars Could Have Been wet for Much Longer Than Previously Believed

Artist's impression of Mars during the Noachian Era. Credit: Ittiz/Wikipedia Commons

Billions of years ago, Mars was a much different place than it is today. During the same period when life was first emerging on Earth, Mars had a thicker atmosphere, warmer surface temperatures, and flowing water on its surface. Evidence of this warmer, wetter past is preserved on the planet’s surface today in the form of river channels, lakebeds, alluvial fans, and sedimentary deposits. When this period began, and how long it lasted, remains the subject of much debate for scientists.

Knowing how long this period lasted helps establish how big the window of opportunity was for life on Mars. But according to new NASA-funded research from the Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration (SEEC), Mars may have been wetter longer than previously expected. According to recently published results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mars may have had a northern ocean as recent as three billion years ago.

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China’s Tianwen-1 Spacecraft Took a Selfie Using a Tiny, Secondary Spacecraft

A remote 'selfie' camera took this image of the Tainwen-1 spacecraft in orbit of Mars. Credit: CNSA.

Remember how China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft released a remote camera to take a picture of itself during its flight to Mars, back in late 2020? Now in Mars orbit, Tianwen-1 has done it again, releasing another mini remote camera. Except this time, the planet Mars is part of the view.

The images are stunning.

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Zhurong Finds its Own Parachute on the Surface of Mars

Image of parachute and back cover for the Zhurong rover on Mars. Credit: China National Space Administration.

As of July 23, 2021, China’s Mars rover Zhurong has traveled 585 meters across the surface of Mars. And along the way, it’s taking pictures of interesting sights.

Some of the most intriguing recent images from the rover show debris from the rover’s landing. During its drives, the rover came upon the parachute and backshell. The China National Space Administration says as the rover drove south of its landing site, it first “saw” the debris on the horizon with its front obstacle avoidance camera, and then took a closer image (lead image) with its navigation terrain camera.

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New Images of Mars From China’s Rover

On May 14th, 2021, the China National Space Agency (CNSA) achieved another major milestone when the Tianwen-1 lander successfully soft-landed on Mars, making China the second nation in the world to land a mission on Mars and establish communications from the surface. Shortly thereafter, China National Space Agency (CNSA) shared the first images taken by the Tianwen-1 lander.

By May 22nd, 2021, the Zhurong rover descended from its lander and drove on the Martian surface for the first time. Since then, the rover has spent 63 Earth days conducting science operations on the surface of Mars and has traveled over 450 meters (1475 feet). On Friday, July 9th, and again on July 15th, the CNSA released new images of the Red Planet that were taken by the rover as it made its way across the surface.

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China Releases Sound and Video of its Rover Landing

View of Zhurong rover on Mars
An image from China's Zhurong rover shows spacecraft hardware in the foreground and Martian terrain in the background. (Credit: CNSA)

Remember the stunning video of the Perseverance rover landing on Mars? The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has now released similar video footage from its Zhurong rover, including the sounds recorded as it plummeted through the Martian atmosphere on its way to landing in Utopia Planitia. The CNSA also released sounds of the rover driving off the landing platform.

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New Photos and Video Shows China’s Zhurong Rover on the Move

The photo shows the wheel tracks left behind by the Mars rover Zhurong. Credit: Xinhua and CNSA.

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.

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Zhurong is Rolling on Mars

China's Zhurong rover on Mars
An image from China's Zhurong rover shows spacecraft hardware in the foreground and Martian terrain in the background. (Credit: CNSA)

On May 22nd, 2021, the Zhurong rover – part of Tianwen-1, China’s first mission to Mars – descended from its lander and drove on the Martian surface for the first time. According to the mission’s official social media account, the rover drove down its descent ramp from the Tianwen-1 lander at 10:40 a.m. Beijing time (07:40 p.m. PDT; 10:40 p.m. EDT) and placed its wheels upon the surface of Mars.

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