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China Publishes First HD Photos of Mars From Its Tianwen-1 Probe


The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has published three new high-definition images of Mars taken by the Tianwen-1 probe that has been in orbit around the Red Planet for the last month.

Two photos were captured in black and white and the third is in color captured by two different cameras. The color photo is an image of the north pole of Mars from a wide orbit, while the black and white photos depict the surface from an approximate altitude of 220 miles.

“The two black-and-white 7-meter-resolution images were taken by the high-definition camera on Tianwen 1’s orbiter when the probe was about 330 to 350 kilometers above the Martian surface. Craters, mountain ridges and sand dunes on the red planet are clear on the pictures,” the CNSA writes. The distance of the probe from Mars for the color image was not provided.

The detail found in these images is rather impressive:

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On that note, any additional information on the images is rather scarce, as the CNSA disclosed very little other data in its public statement.

What is known in the CNSA’s mission for the Tianwen-1 probe: The organization hopes to land a rover on the surface of Mars in May or June, specifically aiming for the southern part of the planet’s Utopia Planitia — a large plain within the largest recognized impact basin in the solar system — to conduct scientific surveys.

The Tianwen-1 is equipped with a yet-to-be-named rover that the CNSA says will be able to move 200 meters per hour once on the surface and carries six scientific instruments including a multispectral camera, ground-penetrating radar, and meteorological measurer. Once on the ground, the rover is expected to work for about three months on the planet.

If successful, the rover will be the sixth deployed on the planet, following five previous that have been deployed by the United States with the most recent being the Perseverance Rover.

For now, the Tianwen-1 is set to orbit the planet for an additional two and a half months before it plans to release its landing capsule, according to the Chinese administration. The Probe was launched on July 23 of last year and the CNSA says it is currently about 212 million kilometers (~131 million miles) from Earth.

(via Space)

Image credits: Photos courtesy of the CNSA.