- China is the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars.
- The rover was scheduled to spend about 93 Mars days surveying the planet.
- China’s rover is about the size of a small car.
China released new images of its Mars rover Zhurong on Friday, as state media said it was evidence of the mission’s “complete success.”
The lander carrying the rover touched down on May 15 in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The Zhurong rover is named after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, CNN said.
The rover first drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22, starting its exploration of the Red Planet, and making China the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars, according to a statement from China’s state media Xinhua.
The new images released Friday included the landing site panorama, a photo of the Martian landscape and a “selfie” of the rover with the landing platform. The images were unveiled at a ceremony in Beijing.
China’s rover was scheduled to spend about 93 Mars days (about 90 Earth days) surveying Utopia Planitia, the same area that the USA’s Perseverance landed on in February. The goal is to look at Mars’ composition and evidence of water ice.
China’s rover is about the size of a small car and has a ground-penetrating radar, a laser and sensors to gauge the atmosphere and magnetic sphere.
“China will publish the related scientific data in a timely manner to let humankind share in the fruits of the country’s space exploration development,” said Zhang Kejian, head of China’s national space agency, in the Xinhua statement.
The Mars rover landing is one of many missions the country hopes to accomplish, including building a new space station. One part of the station successfully launched in April, but China caused some panic in May when debris from a rocket flew uncontrollably down to Earth, crashing into the Indian Ocean.
Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY; The Associated Press