China's Zhurong Mars rover takes a selfie

Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent
@BBCAmoson Twitter

  • Published
Rover selfieImage source, China National Space Administration
Image caption,
The picture was taken using a wireless camera

Wish you were here!

China's Zhurong rover has sent back a batch of new images from Mars - including a "selfie".

The robot, which landed in May, positioned a wireless camera on the ground and then rolled back a short distance to take the snap.

To Zhurong's right is the rocket-powered platform that brought the six-wheeled vehicle to a soft touchdown.

Both display prominent Chinese flags.

Image source, China National Space Administration
Image caption,
The landing platform used rockets to slow its descent

A second image, taken by the rover, shows the platform on its own.

Visible is the ramp down which Zhurong had to drive to get on to the surface; and the tracks it left in the dust as it turned around.

A third picture looks out to the horizon from the landing site. This region is known as Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in Mars' northern hemisphere.

All the images were released by the Chinese space agency in a ceremony to celebrate the success of the rover mission.

Image source, China National Space Administration
Image caption,
Uptopia Planitia is an ancient impact basin on Mars

Scientists are hoping to get at least 90 Martian days of service out of Zhurong.

The robot looks a lot like the American space agency's (Nasa) Spirit and Opportunity vehicles from the 2000s.

It weighs some 240kg. A tall mast carries cameras to take pictures and aid navigation; five additional instruments will investigate the mineralogy of local rocks and the general nature of the environment, including the weather.

Image source, Shutterstock
Image caption,
The mission's chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, introduced the images

Like the current American rovers (Curiosity and Perseverance), Zhurong has a laser tool to zap rocks to assess their chemistry. It also has a radar to look for sub-surface water-ice - a capability it shares with Perseverance.

On Thursday, the US University of Arizona released a colour picture of Zhurong taken from orbit. The university's camera, called HiRise, is mounted on Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image source, NASA/JPL/UArizona
Image caption,
A Nasa satellite pictured the rover and landing platform from orbit