After a few days of silence, many new images gives Mars thanks to CNSA (the Chinese space agency). These days, both Tianwen-1 and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have resumed the landing area of the rover cinese Zhurong where are also the lander and, not far away, the parachute and the rear deck.
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But China wanted to surprise everyone by releasing, in the last hours, also a new series of photographs captured directly from the surface of the Red Planet! In particular, the most famous, that of selfie rover and lander thanks to a small wireless camera deposited on Martian soil.
The selfie of the Chinese rover Zhurong on Mars
This is not the first selfie in history Mars. The two American rovers Curiosity and Perseverance have already accustomed us to similar photographs. The Chinese mission for the first time not using the lander for a photograph of the rover but the small wireless camera deposited on the ground in recent days.
In the image you can see the rover Zhurong next to the lander (which has no real name). There are also some interesting details: for example you can see the Chinese flag, also used for lunar missions, in addition to the presence of the two mascot of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Bing Dwen Dwen (a giant panda cub) e Shuey Rhon Rhon | (a Chinese lantern).
But that is not all! In the disseminated photographs you can also see the hole dug by the landing rocket used by the lander to slow down the descent (generating the traces that can also be seen in the images of the orbiters) in addition to the descent ramp used to obtain Zhurong on the surface of Mars.
Click the pic to enlarge. You can see the Chinese flag, the descent ramp, the hole dug by the landing rocket, and the Winter Olympics mascots.
The homeless he also took one 360 panoramic photography allowing to assess the surrounding land area. There CNSA stated that she was satisfied with the autonomous choice of landing site made by the lander and the final part where the obstacle avoidance system came into operation.
In the overview (visible below), the rover’s solar panels can be seen fully open. Zhurong Unlike curiosity and perseverance, it does not use a plutonium RTG. CNSA has also integrated some innovations regarding what we could see in Opportunity or InSight (stay on Mars). In fact, the panels can be moved and tilted to make Martian sand and dust escape too thanks to a polymer coating that uses a concept borrowed from lotus leaves (creates a very fine veil of air to prevent dust stick to the surface).
Why hasn’t NASA thought of such a system? Generally because US engineers prefer to have fewer moving parts and avoid weight and failure issues (or use completely different solutions, like an RTG). If the Chinese experience is a success, there could also be a turning point for the future missions of other nations, including the United States.
China aims to share the data collected on Mars with the rest of the nations
To obtain all this information (considering also the other data) China uses theTianwen-1 orbiter and then send the signals to Earth. With the potential of NASA’s Deep Space Network unavailable, the transmission speed is modest and therefore updates occur at a rate “relaxed”.
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Zhang kejian, director of the CNSA, said that “Scientific exploration missions will be coordinated to obtain important scientific data, in addition to supporting open exchange, the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation, timely publication of scientific data, so that all mankind can share the results of Chinese aerospace development.”.
The porcelain It has already paved the way for international collaboration in the past. For example, he recently made moon rock samples collected with Chang’e-5 available to anyone who requested them (although he obviously had to abide by some rules). In addition, in the collaboration between Russia and China for the new lunar station dedicated to research, the possibility of having collaborations with other nations is not excluded (allowing also to divide the costs). It remains the political stumbling block of the United States, which has prohibited NASA from collaborating with China on matters related to national security, however, the CNSA has stated that it has nothing against a camaraderie with the Americans.