Jun 29, 2021 - Science

Newly released videos show scenes from China's first mission to Mars

A view of China's Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover seen by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
A view of China's Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover seen by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona

Newly released videos reveal China's Mars rover roaming the world and the spacecraft's daring descent to the Red Planet's surface.

Why it matters: The rover — named Zhurong — is the China National Space Administration's first to explore Mars, making it the only other space agency aside from NASA to successfully operate a rover on the planet.

What's happening: One of the new videos shows Zhurong moving backward after coming off of its landing platform, which brought it down to the Martian surface.

  • The administration also released videos of the rover's descent to the planet's surface in May, revealing the sounds of the rover coming in for a landing.
  • "With the files we released this time, including those sounds recorded when our Mars rover left the lander, we are able to conduct in-depth analysis to the environment and condition of Mars," Liu Jizhong, deputy commander of China's first Mars exploration program, said according to a translation of an interview from CCTV.

The big picture: NASA's Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in February, has also captured the sounds of the Red Planet hundreds of miles away from Zhurong.

  • NASA administrator Bill Nelson used China's Mars landing as an example of why the U.S. needs to continue to push its capabilities in space during a congressional hearing in May.
  • Yes, but: Experts have said the Chinese government doesn't see itself as being in a race with the U.S., instead it's focusing on using its space program and prowess as a form of soft power to influence others in its region.
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