(ORDO NEWS) — After more than a year of exploring Mars, China‘s Tianwen-1 space probe has successfully captured images covering the entire Red Planet, China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) said on June 29.
Tianwen-1, which translates to “search for celestial truth,” consists of six separate spacecraft: an orbiter, two deployable cameras, a lander, a remote camera, and the Jurong rover.
The images were taken by the orbiter as it orbited Mars 1,344 times, capturing images of the Red Planet from all angles as the Jurong explored the surface.
The CNSA statement said the probe has completed all of its missions, including taking medium-resolution images covering the entire planet.
Tianwen-1 was launched on July 23, 2020 at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. What makes this mission unique is that China was trying to be the first country to successfully send an orbiter and rover to Mars on the first try.
After successfully entering orbit and landing, Tianwen-1 was a historic victory for both CNSA and space exploration.
Prior to Tianwen-1, the only two successful missions to send an orbiter and lander to Mars were NASA‘s Viking 1 and 2 missions in 1975.
On Mars 3, the orbiter received about eight months of data, and although the lander landed safely, it only returned 20 seconds of data.
On Mars 6, the orbiter provided data from the eclipse experiment, but the lander failed on its descent.
During its exploration of the Red Planet, Tianwen-1 showed the same Mars that we have come to love and admire: dust dunes, shield volcanoes, impact craters, and even the north pole.
While the orbiter was taking these amazing pictures, Jurong was gathering data and information about Mars’ geology, atmosphere, environment, and soil.
In all, the probe collected 1,040 gigabytes of raw scientific data, which CNSA says has been processed by scientists on Earth and given to researchers for further study.
While the probe entered Mars orbit on February 10, 2021, the Jurong rover did not land on Mars until May 14 of that year.
The landing took place on the Utopia Plain, which is currently home to NASA’s Viking 2 spacecraft, which landed on the vast Martian plain in 1975.
In June 2022, Zhurong successfully detected hydrated minerals in sediments from the most recent geologic period on Mars that are likely associated with groundwater.
Hydrated minerals include substances such as olivine, pyroxene, and feldspar, which have likely been altered as they have integrated water into their chemical structure.
Unfortunately, as of May 18, 2022, Jurong had to go into hibernation due to a drop in temperature during the Martian winter, as well as poor sand and dust conditions. This sleep mode ensures the long-term survivability of the rover, which will wake up sometime in December.
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