The rover Zhurong, named after the god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed in the Mars region of the Utopia Mountains on Mars on May 15. This is China’s first mission to Mars – making it only the second country to land a rover on the planet after the United States.
A third image shows the Chinese flag near the landing site. The rover also took a selfie with a wireless camera, showing its elongated solar panels and a tiny Chinese flag written on its equipment.
The six-wheeled solar-powered rover is designed to last three months, during which it will look for signs or evidence of ancient life on the surface of Mars. As the rover explores the planet, its orbiter also performs scientific detection operations.
“China will publish relevant scientific data in a timely manner to enable humanity to participate in the fruits of space development in the country,”
China launched its Tianwen-1 spacecraft carrying Zhurong and other equipment last July, along with two other international missions to Mars: NASA’s Perseverance rover and the United Arab Emirates’ hope probe.
All three missions started at the same time due to the alignment between Mars and Earth on the same side of the sun, which makes it more efficient to travel to the red planet.
While Jurong is not as technologically advanced as NASA’s “Persistence,” which is also currently orbiting Mars, its presence sends a clear signal that China’s space capabilities are catching up with those of the United States.
The main module is currently the largest spacecraft developed by China. But the station will have to be assembled from several modules starting at different times; the station could be fully operational by the end of 2022, according to Chinese state media.