With solar panel “wings” spread out and two camera “eyes” pointing forward, China’s Mars rover Zurong struck a bird-like pose as it explored the Red Planet in photos released Friday by the country’s space agency .
Zurong’s touchdown in May was the first successful probe by any country to land on its first Mars mission – a milestone in China’s ascent to space superpower status.
The rover, named after a mythical Chinese fire god, has since been studying the topography of the vast Martian lava plain known as Utopia Planitia.
Photos published by China’s National Space Administration show tracks in the red mud left behind by Zurong, which the agency described as the “imprint of China” when it made a landing on the planet’s surface decorated with a large Chinese flag. As a platform.
The six-wheeled, solar-powered, 240-kilogram (530-pound) Zurong is expected to spend three months taking photos, harvesting topographic data and collecting rock samples.
The space agency said Friday that the Mars mission’s “engineering operations went smoothly as planned,” and that the instruments were currently “in good condition.”
China has now sent astronauts to space, operated probes to the Moon and landed a rover on Mars – one of the most coveted prizes of all in the competition for space dominance.
The United States and Russia are the only other countries to reach Mars, and only the former have operated a rover on the surface.
Several American, Russian and European attempts to land rovers on Mars have failed in the past, most recently with the 2016 crash-landing of the Schiaparelli joint Russian-European spacecraft.
The latest successful arrival came in February, when the US space agency NASA landed its rover Perseverance, which has been exploring the planet ever since.
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