China releases new images of Mars taken by its Zhurong rover

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China on Friday released new panoramic images snapped by its Mars rover Zhurong striking a birdlike pose as it rolled along the red planet with a triumphant display of national flags.

The four photos released by the China National Space Administration reveal the upper stage of the six-wheeled, solar-powered vehicle and the view from before it rolled off its platform.

Zhurong placed a remote camera about 33 feet from the platform, then withdrew to take a group portrait, the CNSA said.

The orbiter and lander feature Chinese flags — and the lander has outlines of the mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft carrying Zhurong, named after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed on the planet last month after spending about three months in orbit.

China is the second country to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars, after the US.

The rover’s mission is expected to last three months, during which it will search for signs or evidence of ancient life on Mars’ surface as the orbiter conducts scientific detection operations, CNN reported.

“China will publish the related scientific data in a timely manner to let humankind share in the fruits of the country’s space exploration development,” CNSA chief Zhang Kejian said, according to the network, which cited a report in state-run Xinhua.

The rover is exploring an area known as Utopia Planitia, especially searching for signs of water or ice that could provide clues as to whether Mars ever sustained life.

At 6 feet in height, Zhurong is significantly smaller than the American Perseverance rover, which is exploring the planet with a tiny helicopter.

NASA expects its vehicle to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth as early as 2031.

In addition to the Mars mission, China’s space program plans to send the first crew to its new space station next week.

The three crew members plan to stay for three months on the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, station, far exceeding the length of previous Chinese missions.  

With Post wires

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