NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured a picture of the China National Space Administration’s (CNSA) Zhurong rover on Mars. The image shows the rover at a short distance from its landing platform on Mars. Recently, CNSA had released a black and white picture of the site, but MRO’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera has clicked a coloured photograph. Along with capturing the rover, MRO’s HiRISE has captured the lander surrounded by a blast pattern. The capsule components, including the backshell and heatshield and the parachute that successfully landed the lander-rover duo is also visible.
China’s Zhurong lander and rover as visible on Mars by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter camera — HiRISE. Image credit: NASA/JPL
The HIRISE camera takes pictures that cover vast areas of Mars’ terrain. It operates similar to a human eye, but with a telescopic lens. The image are captured at resolutions that will allow us to see features as small as a kitchen table on Mars.
This image was taken on 6 June and also show that the rover has moved quite a distance, around 22 metres from the lander. This image clicked by HiRISE is the first independent confirmation of the presence of the Chinese rover on Mars, reports BBC.
Speaking about the image, Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for HiRISE’s camera said that it gives them the opportunity to look at the scientific target and hazards on the Martian surface. McEwen works at the University of Arizona as a planetary scientist.
Although there is no cooperation between NASA and the Chinese space agency on the Tianwen-1 mission, McEwen hopes that CNSA will be able to find something of interest with the new HiRISE image, reports Nature.
“It’s incredible!” Peter Grindrod, a planetary scientist at the Natural History Museum in London told Nature. “Driving on Mars appears to be going OK.”
Earlier this week, CNSA had released pictures of the Zhurong Rover, clicked by its Tianwen-1 orbiter. The black and white picture shows the landing site of the mission along with the Zhurong rover on the Martian surface.
On the morning of 15 May, the lander and rover of Tianwen-1 landed on Utopia Planitia which is on the southern part of an icy region on the surface of Mars. The Tianwen-1 mission was launched from Earth on 23 July 2020. It consists of a rover, lander, and orbiter. This is the first time that any other country except for the United States of America has managed to safely land on Mars.
Weighing 240 kgs, the rove looks a lot like the NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers from the 2000s.
Perseverance’s First Road Trip
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
HiRISE has been hard at work and has also captured images of the Perseverance rover. A recent blog by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has shared the picture clicked by HiRISE of the path that the Perseverance rover will take during its first science campaign on the red planet.
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