China releases high-resolution Mars images from its Tianwen-1 probe

China launched Tianwen-1 on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the parking orbit around Mars on February 24

China releases high-resolution Mars images from its Tianwen-1 probe

An image of Mars taken by China’s Tianwen-1 unmanned probe is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) March 4, 2021. CNSA/Handout via REUTERS

Beijing, March 4

China’s national space agency on Thursday published high-resolution images of Mars captured by the country’s Tianwen-1 probe, which is currently orbiting the Red planet.

These images include two panchromatic view and one colour image, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The panchromatic images were taken by the high-resolution camera of China’s spacecraft, Tianwen-1 meaning Questions to Heaven, at a distance of 330 to 350 km above the surface of Mars.

An image of Mars taken by China’s Tianwen-1 unmanned probe is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) March 4, 2021. CNSA/Handout via REUTERS

In the images, Martian landforms such as small craters, mountain ridges and dunes are clearly visible. It is estimated that the diameter of the largest impact crater in the images is around 620 meters, state-run Xinhua news agency reported quoting CNSA statement.

Also read: Chinese astronauts training for space station crewed flights

China launched Tianwen-1 on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the parking orbit around Mars on February 24.

It has flown for 224 days and about 475 million kms. Currently, it is about 212 million km away from Earth, according to CNSA.

It entered its pre-set parking orbit above Mars on February 24 and would fly in this orbit for about three months before releasing its landing capsule.

An image of Mars taken by China’s Tianwen-1 unmanned probe is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) March 4, 2021. CNSA/Handout via REUTERS

The Tianwen 1 mission’s ultimate goal is to land a rover in May or June on the southern part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia — a large plain within Utopia, the largest recognised impact basin in the solar system — to conduct scientific surveys, state-run China Daily has reported.

Weighing about 240 kilograms, the rover, which is yet to be named, has six wheels and four solar panels and is able to move 200 meters per hour on Mars.

It carries six scientific instruments, including multispectral camera, ground-penetrating radar and meteorological measurer, and is expected to work about three months on the planet.

Spacecraft of the UAE, the US and China have recently entered the Mars orbit. NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18 after almost seven months travelling from Earth.

Since then, it has sent back some striking images from around its landing site, Jezero Crater.

The UAE orbiter named Hope will study the Martian atmosphere and climate.

Previously US, Russia, EU besides India have succeeded in sending spacecraft to Mars regarded as the most complex space mission. India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission Mangalyaan which entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014.

India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt. PTI

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