China’s Zhurong rover, which landed on Mars on May 14, has sent a new batch of images to Earth — including a “family photo” featuring the rover together with its rocket-powered landing platform posing for a camera on the rock-covered surface.
From an epic panorama to a detailed look at Mars’s topography and some impressive-looking wheelies by the rover, the images are a fantastic contribution to our understanding of the Red Planet. But the one that has captured our hearts? A cute group photo of Zhurong and its lander, taken on a camera timer like any tourist sending a photo back home.
Zhurong used a small wireless camera to take the “touring group photo,” according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). It moved 10 meters south of the landing platform, set the camera (which had been stored underneath the rover) on the ground, and then returned to stand next to the Chinese flag-draped landing platform.
The panorama of Utopia Planitia, where the rover landed, is one of the other incredible photos. You can see the horizon, the rover, and the lander, as well as where the landing disturbed the ground and how the regolith dispersed.
Here you can see the landing platform displaying the Chinese flag as well as the Bejing Winter Olympics mascots on the yellow flag to the left. You can also see the tracks of the maneuvers by the rover when it first rolled off the landing platform and onto the ground for the first time and then oriented itself.
CNSA director Zhang Kejian said that the mission would “carry forward the work style of rigorous, careful, and vigorously coordinated work, organize and implement various scientific exploration missions, and obtain high-quality scientific data; uphold open sharing the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation, timely release of scientific data products, so that all mankind can share the achievements of China’s aerospace development.”
The CNSA released images from the Tianwen-1 orbiter last week, capturing the Zhurong rover and the landing platform on Mars’ surface.
A dark area can be seen surrounding the landing platform in the images, which Chinese officials said is the result of the rocket engine firing during the landing. Bright stripes can also be seen on the image, which were most likely formed by fine dust when the landing platform released residual fuel. The entry capsule’s back cover and the jettisoned parachute can be seen as bright spots in the image’s center. In the lower left corner, you can see the heat shield.