Updated June 29th, 2022 at 22:59 IST
China’s Tainwen-1 probe maps Mars after orbiting over 1,300 times; see pictures here
China launched the Tianwen-1 probe on July 23, 2020, which began its operations in February last year after travelling 475 million kilometres.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA), on Wednesday, announced that its Tianwen-1 mission orbiter has mapped the entire Mars and has beamed back stunning images in the process. According to the Chinese space agency, the orbiter’s images were captured when it circled the red planet 1,344 times ever since it entered the Martian orbit in February 2021. Notably, Tianwen-1 was China’s inaugural mission to Mars and it included a combination of an orbiter, a lander and a rover named Zhurong, the god of fire in Chinese mythology.
What did the Tianwen-1 orbiter see?
While orbiting Mars since last February, the orbiter has photographed its north pole along with a number of canyons, craters and volcanos scattered across the red planet. The Tianwen-1 image below, for instance, was shared by the CNSA and features the Ascraeus Mons shield volcano which spans 18 kilometres across. In addition to this, the orbiter has also beamed back pictures of the Martian south pole which is considered to be a hotspot of the planet's water resources.
(Ascraeus Mons shield volcano; Image: CNSA)
The next picture shows part of Mars' south pole which was also an area the orbiter extensively studied. Scientists believe that this location houses water, a component that reflects a planet's potential to harbor life.
(Part of Mars' south pole; Image: CNSA)
Among other intriguing pictures sent by the Orbiter includes that of the Arabia Terra, which is a large upland and is battered with impact craters. Scientists say that the craters are great for determining the planet's age and the terrains here are believed to be one of the oldest on Mars.
(Arabia Terra region on Mars; Image; CNSA)
(Tianwen-1's high-resolution imagery of the 91-km-long Maunder crater)
China's success with Tianwen-1
With the successful touchdown of the Tianwen-1 mission, China established itself as a country that landed a rover on the red planet on its maiden attempt. The mission was launched on July 23, 2020, aboard a Long March 5 Y-4 carrier rocket from Wenchang Space Launch Centre and arrived at its destination last February after travelling 475 million kilometres. Following its arrival, the probe released the rover-carrying lander three months later and it touched down on Mars in May last year.
Ever since the landing, the Zhurong rover has travelled over two kilometres on Mars. According to CNSA, the rover is currently in hibernation mode due to the Martian winter and will resume its operations during Martian spring in December.
Published June 29th, 2022 at 22:59 IST