China’s Mars rover, “Zhurong”, has taken new visuals of the Red Planet. The country’s space exploration agency, CNSA, shared the new shots on Sunday. This is the second set of relayed images since the mission began a month ago.
On May 15, China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars. The six-wheeled solar-operated rover onboard then started running diagnostics. “When we were designing, we wanted to obtain some visual states of the rover. [They’ll form] a basis for further improvement of the project,” said Rao Wei, a senior engineer at CNSA.
The Objective of China’s Mars Rover Mission
The CNSA’s official website reports that Zhurong is scouring an area on the Red Planet known as “Utopia Planitia”. The rover is investigating the planet’s surface and subsurface for signs of ancient microscopic life. It has covered 236 meters of land so far.
Further, the CNSA says: “the orbiter will continue to operate in the relay orbit to provide relay communications for the rover’s patrol and exploration, and carry out surround detection”. The mission is expected to last for 90 days. And it is part of a larger project that aims to send humans to Mars by 2033.
Relatedly, an official event was held on June 11 in Beijing to celebrate the success of China’s Mars rover mission so far. At the event, Liu He, a representative of the Chinese government said: “We must have the courage to explore the boundaries of human cognition. [We must] continue to challenge and improve the limits of scientific and technological capabilities.”
China is one of many countries that have shown an interest in space exploration. In 1993, the Asian country created the CNSA to oversee all space activities. The latest footage is proof of how far Beijing has come in its resolve. But will China beat the US to Mars takeover? We’ll have to wait and see.