Photos taken by Zhurong Mars rover published

The China National Space Administration published on Thursday three pictures taken recently by its Zhurong Mars rover that showed the parachute and bowl-shaped back shell used in the rover’s landing.

The pictures – one color and two black-and-white – were shot by Zhurong’s navigation camera on Monday as the rover was traveling southward for its scientific exploration, the administration said in a statement released with the photos.

The parachute and back shell can be clearly seen in the pictures. They were about 30 meters from the rover and 350 meters from the landing site, according to the statement.

As of Thursday afternoon, Zhurong, named after the Chinese god of fire in ancient mythology, had operated 60 days on Mars and traveled 450 meters to survey the barren planet. Meanwhile, the mission’s orbiter has continued traveling around the Red Planet for orbital exploration.

With an expected life span of three months, the 240-kilogram Zhurong is tasked with surveying Mars’ landforms, geological structures, soil characteristics, potential locations of water and ice, and atmospheric and environmental characteristics, as well as magnetic and gravitational fields and other physical properties.

The 1.85-meter-high rover is the core component of the Tianwen 1 mission, the country’s first interplanetary adventure, and is the sixth rover on the extraterrestrial planet, following five from the United States.

Tianwen 1, named after an ancient Chinese poem, was launched by a Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket on July 23, 2020, from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan province, beginning the nation’s first mission to another planet.

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