A Chinese spacecraft has acquired imagery data covering all of Mars, including views of its south pole, after orbiting the planet more than 1,300 times since early last year, state media reported on Wednesday.
China’s Tianwen-1 successfully reached the Red Planet in February 2021 on the country’s inaugural mission there. A robotic rover has since been deployed to the surface as an orbiter surveyed the planet from space.
The images taken from space were China’s first pictures of Mars’ south pole, where almost all of the planet’s water resources are locked up.
In 2018, an orbiting probe operated by the European Space Agency discovered water beneath the ice at the planet’s south pole.
As well as determining the potential of the planet for life, locating subsurface waters is critical to providing a sustainable resource for any human exploration there.
Other Tianwen-1 images include photographs of the 4,000-km-long canyon Wallace Marineris, and the impact craters of the highlands north of Mars known as Arabia Terra.
Tianwen-1 sent back high-resolution imagery of the edge of the giant Maunder crater, as well as a top-down view of the 18,000-meter Escraeus Mons, a large shield volcano first detected in more than five decades by NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft. was discovered in time. Earlier
© Thomson Reuters 2022