Late last week, the Chinese lander Zhurong landed on Mars after detaching from the the Tianwen-1 ship. With this, China became the third country to touch the Martian surface successfully. Now we finally have official images of the feat.
China is the second country to make the most progress in conquering Mars. It has successfully landed and kept the lander operational for a long enough period to send back official images, which only the United States had achieved until now.
The National Space Administration of China (CNSA) has published the first official images of Zhurong on Mars. These are two images from the Martian surface once the landing occurred successfully. Likewise, we have two official videos watching Zhurong free himself from the ship. TODAY, the CNSA reported that the first images captured by the lander include two photos: one grayscale and the other full color.
Mars from a non-American lander
The camera took the first of the grayscale photos at the top of the rover to avoid obstacles. The image, due to the camera lens, is considerably distorted. We see the two radar rods at the top and the ramp mechanism to drop the rover in the center of the image.
On the other hand, the color photo shows the navigation camera with the lens pointing to the back of the lander. We can see the two main elements are the antenna pointing upwards to communicate with the orbiter and all possible solar panels deployed to capture energy.
As for the videos, they are not very detailed. However, they allow us to see how the ship dropped the lander on the surface of Mars. The lander at the time was protected by a heat shield, so what we see is just a lump.
In the coming days the rover will start exploring Mars coming out of the lander and sailing on its own. Chances are we’ll start watching more images and videos sent from Mars by Zhurong, just like Perseverance.