China’s Zhurong rover has sent back its first batch of scientific images since its historic landing on May 15, when China became the second nation to successfully land a rover on Mars. From an epic panorama to a detailed look at Mars’s topography and some impressive-looking wheelies by the rover, the images are a fantastic contribution to our understanding of the Red Planet. But the one that has captured our hearts? An adorable group photo of Zhurong and its lander taken on a camera timer just like any tourist sending a picture back home.
This is what I see pic.twitter.com/dE3kuwa1LB
— Prof. Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) June 11, 2021
According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the “touring group photo” was taken by Zhurong using a small wireless camera. It traveled 10 meters south of the landing platform, placed the camera (which had been stored underneath the rover) on the ground, and then retreated back to stand next to the landing platform, which is displaying the Chinese flag.
Camera for the group photo was deployed by the rover. pic.twitter.com/OW3wDHUvt4
— Chinese Zhurong Mars Rover (@MarsZhurong) June 11, 2021
The other incredible photos include this panorama of Utopia Planitia, where the rover landed. Not only can you see the horizon, the rover and lander, but you can see where the ground was disturbed by the landing and how the regolith dispersed.
Here you can see the landing platform displaying the Chinese flag as well as the Bejing Winter Olympics mascots on the yellow flag to the left. You can also see the tracks of the maneuvers by the rover when it first rolled off the landing platform and onto the ground for the first time and then oriented itself.
CNSA director Zhang Kejian said that the mission would “carry forward the work style of rigorous, careful, and vigorously coordinated work, organize and implement various scientific exploration missions, and obtain high-quality scientific data; uphold open sharing the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation, timely release of scientific data products, so that all mankind can share the achievements of China’s aerospace development.”