Insane World

China’s Mars rover sends back a batch new pictures, including a ‘selfie’

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.

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.

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.

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.