Chinese rover on Mars.. new photos

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The dusty, rocky surface of Mars, a rover and a Chinese lander carrying small national flags are seen in photos released by China on Friday taken by the rover on the Red Planet.

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The four images released by the China National Space Administration show the upper stage of the Zurong rover and the view from the rover before it lifts off from its platform.

Zurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters (33 feet) from the landing platform, and then pulled out to take a group photo, the agency said.

China landed the Tianwen-1 spacecraft on Mars last month after spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet.

China is the second country to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars, after the United States.

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Both the orbiter and the lander display small Chinese flags, and the probe has outlines of mascots for the Winter Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The six-wheeled rover is scanning an area known as Utopia Planetia, looking for signs of water or ice that could provide clues to whether Mars was once inhabited by life.

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At 1.85 meters (6 feet) tall, Zurong is much smaller than the American spacecraft Perseverance, which is exploring the planet with a small helicopter. NASA expects its rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth as early as 2031.

In addition to the Mars mission, China’s ambitious space program plans to send its first crew to its new space station next week.

The three crew members plan to stay for three months at Tianhe Station, or Heavenly Harmony Station, far exceeding the length of any previous Chinese mission. They will conduct spacewalks, construction and maintenance work, and carry out scientific experiments.

Subsequent launches are planned to expand the station, and send supplies and exchange crews.

China also returned samples from the moon, the first of its kind by any country’s space program since the 1970s, and landed a probe and rover on the far side of the moon.







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