Chinese Mars rover makes its first meters and leaves lander

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The Chinese Mars rover Zhurong, which has been on the surface of the red planet since May 15, has made its first meters. Video footage released by the Chinese space agency CNSA shows the maneuver from different perspectives.

The maneuvers took place early Saturday morning, according to Beijing local time. The CNSA released a video of the ride that also on Twitter published on the Chinese state news medium CGTN. The 20-frame video shows rover Zhurong exiting the lander. That was filmed with cameras on both the front and back.

It is the rover’s first self-propelled movement. No images of the lander and rover were available at the time of the landing on May 15; which followed on 19 May. Then CNSA released a video of the lander leaving the space capsule and two photos: one of the rover’s view of the lander and a selfie.

Ultimately, the Chinese Mars rover must investigate the Martian surface, as well as look for possible traces of life on the planet. For example, the rover has six instruments on board for soil research, such as a radar instrument that can see through the surface of the planet. The Chinese space agency hopes the Mars rover will remain active for 90 sols, or about three Earth months. Zhurong has landed on Utopia Planitia, a large area where there used to be an ocean, and where there may be ice underground.

Concurrent with this expedition, which is part of China’s Tianwen-1 space mission, NASA is conducting its Perseverance rover expedition. It is about 1800 kilometers away.

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