China's Probe Takes a Selfie on Mars

Tree Langdon
China's probe on MarsZhurong/Wikimedia

On Feb 10, 2021, China’s probe, Tianwen-1, reached Mars.

Once it arrived, it was successful in achieving orbit, which was one step in a multi-phase mission. The probe contained a lander/rover duo.

The name of the rover was released just before the landing on Mars. It's called Zhurong and its named after the god of fire.

The Zhurong Mars lander/rover successfully landed on Mars on May 15 after an exciting descent to the surface. They captured some interesting video footage of the last bit of the landing.

More interesting footage was shared with the world.

It’s pretty cool to watch. First, you see the view of the ramp from the rover’s point of view, and then the camera reverses to show you the view of the lander behind it.

Next, they took a selfie.

In a brilliant maneuver, the Zhurong Mars rover placed a wireless camera on the ground. It then moved into position and took a self-portrait of itself and the lander.

Now that they are finished with the selfie part of the mission, the rover plans to perform many standardized tests.

Surface soil, water/ice distribution, and rock analysis are the usual tasks a rover performs after landing on a moon or a planet. The Zhurong rover carries a Subsurface Exploration Radar instrument and multispectral cameras and instruments for analysis.

Between NASA's images of the landing site of the Zhurong, and the Tianwen-1 images, there’s a great opportunity to collaborate.

One interesting development is wind sound, which both rovers are recording.

Researchers are trying to correlate audio it detects with data from the Perseverance rover’s weather station with the sounds from the Zhurong to study wind patterns.

It’s one of those serendipitous developments which may or may not add to the discoveries happening right now on Mars.

The US is busy sending up ships although they're closer to home. Often it's a commercial venture that grabs the headlines. I'm sometimes surprised at how much we ignore what's happening on Mars. Instead, we're attracted by what's going on closer to home.

In May of this year, SpaceX successfully landed a ship that is slated to take us to the moon in future flights.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is planning a trip to the moon in 2023, partnering with SpaceX for the flight.

His project is called dear Moon and he plans to select a group of 8 to 10 people to come along with him on a three-day flight to the moon.

He’s taken applications and is screening potential crew members using two basic criteria.

They must show how they will use the opportunity to advance whatever activity they are doing now by going into space.

The second criteria are the willingness and ability to support other members of the crew in their goals.

The Starship has landed," said John Insprucker, a SpaceX webcast commentator.

It was a fantastic moment.

A fire at the base of the rocket burned for several minutes after touchdown, but automated water cannons deployed appeared to put out the blaze.

The four previous tests of the 50-meter Starship launched successfully but ended in spectacular explosions, or "rapid unscheduled disassemblies," as Musk refers to them.

Each of the previous attempts was a learning opportunity, which SpaceX scientists and technicians took advantage of, making adjustments and improvements to support this successful launch.

The closest a previous Starship came to a successful landing was the SN10 when it touched down and blew up roughly eight minutes later due to a methane leak.

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I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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