Mars ’Chinese probe, Tianwen-1, has been hanging around Mars in a parking orbit for nearly two full months, preparing for its landing in May.
But he’s not just sitting there in orbit spinning his antennas. The spacecraft examines the planet, orbits closer, checks the landing site of the rover chosen by the mission and sends some amazing images of our dusty planetary friend.
On March 16 and March 18, the spacecraft took two panoramic photographs with its medium-resolution camera of a crescent moon from Mars seen from its farthest side, with the Sun behind, at a distance of about 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles).
From this distance, the characteristics of the surface are visible, different colors appearing on the face of Mars, as well as a faint blurred outline: the fine but dusty atmosphere of the planet surrounds itself like a delicate shell.
Mars is the most visited planet in the solar system, but we still know many. With eight orbiters currently in operation (including Tianwen-1 and the Hope orbiter in the UAE, which also arrived in February this year), in addition to two rovers and a lander, there are new discoveries being made. doing all the time.
Tianwen-1 carries a lander and a rover that will touch the Utopia Planitia, within the Utopia impact basin in the northern Martian hemisphere. It is a large plain of lava, under which large amounts of ice have been found, and which scientists believe was the home of an ocean before Mars lost liquid surface water.
Exploring this region, the National Space Administration of China believes, could provide some vital clues that could help us gather even more about the mysterious history of the planet.
A date for the landing has not yet been set, but it is scheduled for mid-May, according to a speech by Chi Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for Space Science Week 2021.
Once the rover falls, the orbit will continue to orbit the planet, making its own observations and acting as a communications relay between Earth and Mars.
Hopefully, in the coming years we will see many more images like these.