Tianwen 1: Mars orbit selfie

Chinese orbit Tianwen 1 The new year 2022 has started with a stunning photo: a photo of the probe orbiting Mars itself, taken by a disposable Wi-Fi camera. The Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) has not released much data or images of Tianwen 1 (天 问) since Jurong landed on Utopia Planetia on May 14, 2021. Little has been published through scientific journals. But the CNSA clearly doesn’t want the media to forget the Tianwen 1 orbiter, which is focused on the adventures of the Zhurong rover. In any case, the picture is clearly impressive.

The Tianwen 1 probe in Mars orbit seen by the Deployable Camera (North Planet Down) (CNSA).

This is the first complete image of a space probe orbiting Mars, although, to be fair, it’s not quite the first. Photograph Holds a spaceship with the red planet in the background. That honor goes to the European probe Rosetta, which on February 25, 2007 captured an image with the CIVA camera at Elephant in which part of the solar panel and the spacecraft’s structure are seen. But that image, which was originally black and white, was taken on the red planet’s flight path, not its orbit, and the probe cannot be fully appreciated. In contrast, Tianwen 1 was captured in color with an output camera. In addition to this image, the WiFi camera allowed us to see the northern polar cap of the red planet, a characteristic vortex vortex in which areas of water ice mix with dusty areas.

Another image of the orbiter Tianwen 1 taken by the Deployable Camera (CNSA).
Arctic cover (mainly water ice) as seen by the CNSA.
First image detail (CNSA).
An image (color) of Mars taken by the Rosetta probe during its 2007 flyby (CIVA/Philae/ESA Rosetta).

This was the third deployable camera released during the first Tianwen 1 mission release him In October 2020 in interplanetary space as the probe was on its way to Mars. The second posted By the Zhurong rover on the surface of the planet, in addition to photos, a video of the rover was also recorded next to the landing stage. China isn’t the first country to use deployable cameras to film its investigations, with Japan’s space agency JAXA having included them in missions like Ikaros or Hayabusa 2, but it’s clear, for now, that it’s the nation that has benefited most spectacularly from them.

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The first selfie of Tianwen 1 in deep space, when she was still attached to the landing capsule (CNSA).
Second job profile picture. The Zhurong rover and the landing stage of the Tianwen 1 mission at Utopia Planitia (about 10 meters apart). You can see Chinese flags on stage – playable – and CNSA flags.
Tianwen 1 Orbital Instruments (CNSA).

Since its operation on November 8, the orbiter Tianwen 1 has been in a polar orbit of 265 x 10,700 kilometers for a period of 7 hours and 5 minutes. From this new orbit, the probe no longer spends much time relaying data from the Zurong rover and focuses on exploring Mars with its seven instruments. On the other hand, at the same time that these images of the orbiter were released, the CNSA also released a panorama of the Zhurong rover. They are the first images of the rover we’ve seen since October 21, when communications with the mission resumed after solar conjunction. Zhurong has already worked for 225 suns – Mars days – and has traveled 1.4 kilometers above Utopia Planitia. According to CNSA, the Tianwen mission sent 1 560 gigabytes of data to Earth. Now that CNSA has released these beautiful images, I hope it will also release more images taken by the high-resolution HiRIC camera, the most powerful camera ever sent to the Red Planet, behind HiRISE from NASA’s MRO probe.

The first panorama of Zurong we’ve seen since October 2020 (CNSA).


  • http://www.cnsa.gov.cn/n6759533/c6813038/content.html

Lovell Loxley

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