The Chinese space agency has released images taken by a small camera taken out of the country’s first Mars spacecraft. Nearly half of the seven – month journey from Earth to the Red Planet shows the exploration of deep space.
Images released by the Chinese National Space Administration on October 1 show the Tianwen 1 spacecraft moving through the black of space. Tianwen deployed a small camera to take self-portraits as he moved away from his mother.
The two wide angle lenses in the deployable camera are programmed into one image per second. The images were sent back to Tianwen via wireless radio link and then downlinked to ground teams in China.
In the pictures, Tianwen 1’s solar array wings and the dish-shaped high-gain communication antenna can be seen prominently. The white section of the spacecraft is the mission’s entry module and heat shield, which contains a Chinese rover designed to land on Mars and explore the surface.
The red Chinese flag can also be seen on the spacecraft. The images were released on the occasion of China’s national holiday, which marks the 71st anniversary of communist rule.
The robotic Tianwen 1 spacecraft was launched on the Long March 5 rocket on July 23, making it the most powerful launch in China. So far, two mid-course correction strategies have been explored to better examine the path to Mars, causing serious burns to enter orbit around the Red Planet in February.
Once in orbit, the Tianwen 1 spacecraft will survey the candidate landing sites for two to three months, and the lander and rover will enter Mars’ atmosphere.
If China withdraws those ideas under the plan, they will make China the third country after the Soviet Union and the United States to make a soft landing on Mars and the second country to run a robotic rover on the Red Planet.
The Tiananmen 1 orbiter, which has been in mission since the launch of Lander and Rover, is designed to operate for at least one Mars year or about two years on Earth. The six-wheeled solar power rover has a lifespan of at least 90 days, Chinese officials said.
The Tianwen 1 mission will conduct a global survey of Mars, measure the structure of soil and rock, search for ice signs of buried water, and study the magnetic field and atmosphere of Mars. The orbiter and rover will monitor the weather on Mars and explore the internal structure of Mars.
The Tianwen 1 mission is currently one of three spacecraft in orbit to Mars. NASA’s Rover and Hope Orbiter, developed by the United Arab Emirates, launched in July and are on their way to Mars in February.
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