December 2, 2021

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Behold! China unveils 1st Mars photos from Zhurong rover

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China has released the first photographs taken by its Zhurong rover, which touched down on Mars late on Friday (May 14) as part of the country’s Tianwen-1 mission.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA), which runs the mission, has released two Mars photographs taken by the rover: one in color and one in black and white. Both images show parts of the rover and its lander against a backdrop of Utopia Planitia, the expansive northern plain that Zhurong will explore during its mission.

Related: China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission in photos

This photo is the first color view of Mars from China’s Zhurong rover, looking toward its rear, from its landing spot on a plain in Utopia Planitia following a May 14, 2021 landing. This image was released May 19. (Image credit: China National Space Administration)

The color image shows a view looking to the rear of Zhurong from a navigation camera above the rover’s main deck. Solar arrays are visible, as are some surface rocks and features. The black and white image is from an obstacle avoidance camera at the front of the rover. It was captured with a wide-angle lens that also revealed a view of the Mars horizon in the distance, as well as two subsurface radar instruments on the rover itself.

In addition to the photos from the surface, CNSA also released two short videos of the orbiter and Zhurong rover’s landing capsule separating during Friday’s maneuver. Both videos come from cameras on the orbiter and show the capsule pulling away.

This black and white view of Mars is a photo from a navigation camera on China’s Mars rover Zhurong released on May 19, 2021 about 4 days after landing. The ramp to the Martian surface from Zhurong’s lander is visible, as are two subsurface radar instruments on the rover and the Martian horizon in the wide-angle view.  (Image credit: China National Space Administration)

China’s successful Mars landing made the country only the second nation to successfully soft-land on Mars, joining the United States. The Soviet Union and the European Space Agency have also sent missions to the Red Planet’s surface, but those landings have not been successful. Zhurong’s arrival brings the active Mars rover tally to three, joining NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance rovers.

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