"It's another important milestone for China's space exploration."
China has shared the first pictures taken by its Zhurong Mars rover after touching down on the Red Planet’s surface over the weekend.
It’s a momentous occasion. Early Saturday morning Beijing time, China made history by becoming only the third country after the US and the USSR to successfully land a remotely operated probe on the surface of Mars.
Nothing But Plain
China says Zhurong will spend about 90 Martian days to explore the surrounding Utopia Planitia, a huge plain in the Martian northern hemisphere. Scientists believe there are massive deposits of water ice lurking beneath the area — about as much water as Lake Superior, according to NASA.
China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) shared several images on its website, including some short videos recording the moment the descent module departed the country’s Tianwen-1 orbiter.
One black and white image shows the ramp the rover will use to exit the landing module and reach the surface below.
A color image also shows the rover’s navigation camera as well as its solar wings and antennas.
Long Road Ahead
For now Zhurong will check its instruments and perform several checkouts of its systems and instruments over the next seven days.
“The Mars exploration mission has been a total success,” Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement following the landing. “It’s another important milestone for China’s space exploration.”
READ MORE: China on Mars: Zhurong rover returns first pictures [BBC]
More on Zhurong: Chinese Mars Rover Reportedly Touches Down on Surface of Mars