The Chinese probe is sending the first images of Mars

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Four days after the Chinese spacecraft Zhurong reached Mars, the Chinese National Space Agency released its first images on Wednesday.

Solar panels have sprung up in an extraterrestrial region, cliffs and antennas have pointed toward the horizon of Mars: China’s first probe on the Red Planet sent its first “selfies” to Earth, after its historic landing last week.

The “Zhurong” rover, installed on a lander, entered the Martian atmosphere on Saturday, May 15th and became the first probe to successfully land on the planet by a country performing its first mission on Mars.

Zhurong, named after the god of fire in Chinese mythology, arrived a few months after the last American probe reached the surface of Mars, “Perseverance,” and is celebrated in China as a milestone in his rise to the status of superpower in space.

On Wednesday, May 19, the China National Space Agency (CNSA) released images taken by the rover, which show the obstacle avoidance system and the spacecraft’s solar panels, as well as the Martian soil.

Big ambitions for China

The agency wrote in a post on social media containing the photos: “People of the Internet, the images of Mars that you were waiting anxiously for are here.”

The operation to bring down the rover was a sensitive one for Chinese engineers. State media described using the parachute to slow its descent and deploying landing gear as “the most difficult part of the mission.”

>> To watch: “Mission to Mars: The race to discover the Red Planet”

The vehicle is scheduled to operate for a period of three months, during which it is expected to take pictures and collect data on the local geography.

China has come a long way to catch up with Russia and the United States, whose astronauts have decades of experience in space exploration.

It successfully launched the first unit of its upcoming space station last month. It hopes to make it habitable by 2022 and aims to send humans to the moon after that.

With Agence France-Presse

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