Tianwen-1: China’s Mars probe has photographed the entire Red Planet

Tianwen-1: China's Mars probe has photographed the entire Red Planet
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After more than a year on the surface of Mars, China Tianwen-1 process has acquired images covering the entire Red Planet, the country’s space agency said on Wednesday.

Launched in 2020, Tianwen-1, meaning “Search for Heavenly Truth,” landed on Mars last May when the onboard Zhurong rover began its mission to patrol and explore the planet while the orbiter orbited overhead.

In a statement, China’s National Space Agency (CNSA) said the probe has now completed all of its assigned tasks, including capturing medium-resolution images covering the entire planet.

An image of dunes on Mars taken by the Tianwen-1 spacecraft's rover Zhurong just before it went into hibernation in May 2022.

The images, released by the space agency on social media, show the rugged terrain of the Martian landscape: dusty red dunes, shield volcanoes, impact craters, the South Pole ice sheet, and the cliffs and ridges of Valles Marineris Gorge – one of the largest canyons in our solar system.

The images were taken by the probe’s orbiter, which orbited Mars 1,344 times and captured images of the planet from every angle while the rover explored the surface, CNSA said.

A high-resolution image showing the rim of a crater on Mars and the start of the pit.

The six-wheeled rover carried scientific instruments on its journey and collected information about the geological structure, atmosphere, environment and soil of Mars. The probe has collected 1,040 gigabytes raw scientific data Has were processed by scientists on Earth and handed over to research teams for further study, the agency said.

CNSA said it shared those of the orbiter Flight information with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and the scientific Data will be available to international scientists “at an appropriate time”.

With temperatures falling during the Martian winter, along with poor sand and dust conditions, the rover entered a sleep mode on May 18 that will endure the harsh season ahead of its expected December awakening – when the landing site enters early spring and brings better weather.

The orbiter will continue to conduct tests and prepare for future missions, the space agency said.

Before China’s success with Tianwen-1, only the United States and the former Soviet Union had landed a spacecraft on the surface of Mars – but India, ESA and the United Arab Emirates have sent spacecraft to enter the planet’s orbit.

With Tianwen-1, China became the first nation to attempt to send both an orbiter and rover on its first mission to Mars. NASA, for example, sent several orbiters to Mars before ever attempting a landing.

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