China releases new video, images from its Zhurong Mars rover

The China National Space Administration has released new footage captured by the country’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 that was launched in mid-May.

The videos and photos taken by a camera installed on the Zhurong rover of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft and released on Sunday show the lander deploying a parachute before touching down on the Mars surface and the rover driving away from its landing platform onto the land.

State broadcaster CCTV said the Mars rover Zhurong, named after the Chinese god of fire, has been working on the red planet for 42 days and has moved 236 metres in total.

China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on May 15, 2021, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space.

A remote-controlled rover drove down the ramp of its landing capsule on May 22 and onto the surface of Mars, making China the first nation to orbit, land and deploy a land vehicle on its inaugural mission to the Red Planet.

The probe sent back its first photographs of the Red Planet days after its historic landing.

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

Powered by solar energy, the 240kg (530 pounds) Zhurong will also look for signs of ancient life, including any sub-surface water and ice, using a ground-penetrating radar during its 90-day exploration of the Martian surface.

Zhurong will move and stop in slow intervals, with each interval estimated to be just 10 metres (33 feet) over three days, according to China’s official SpaceNews.

China is the second country to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars, after the United States. The former Soviet Union landed a craft in 1971, but it lost communication seconds later. – AL JAZEERA

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