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Chinese Mars rover Zhurong beams back first photos

An image taken on Mars by Chinese rover Zhurong of China's Tianwen-1 mission is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), May 19, 2021. 
An image taken on Mars by Chinese rover Zhurong of China's Tianwen-1 mission is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), May 19, 2021.  (via REUTERS)

The Zhurong rover was carried into the Martian atmosphere in a lander on Saturday.

Solar panels against an alien landscape, ramps and rods pointing at the Martian horizon -- China's first probe on the Red Planet has beamed back its first "selfies" after its history-making landing last week.

The Zhurong rover was carried into the Martian atmosphere in a lander on Saturday, in the first-ever successful probe landing by any country on its first Mars mission.

An image taken on Mars by Chinese rover Zhurong of China's Tianwen-1 mission is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), May 19, 2021. 
An image taken on Mars by Chinese rover Zhurong of China's Tianwen-1 mission is seen in this handout image released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), May 19, 2021.  (via REUTERS)

Zhurong, named after a mythical Chinese fire god, arrived a few months behind the United States' latest probe to Mars -- Perseverance -- and has been celebrated in China as a milestone in its ascent to space superpower status.

The China National Space Administration on Wednesday published the images taken by cameras attached to the rover, which showed the obstacle-avoidance equipment and solar panels on the vehicle, as well as the texture of the Martian surface.

This picture released on May 19, 2021, by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows an image taken by the front obstacle avoidance camera of China's Zhurong rover, facing the rover's direction of movement and showing the deployment of the ramp mechanism, on the surface of Mars, after it landed on Mars on May 15, 2021. 
This picture released on May 19, 2021, by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows an image taken by the front obstacle avoidance camera of China's Zhurong rover, facing the rover's direction of movement and showing the deployment of the ramp mechanism, on the surface of Mars, after it landed on Mars on May 15, 2021.  (AFP)

Solar panels against an alien landscape, ramps and rods pointing at the Martian horizon -- China's first probe on the Red Planet has beamed back its first "selfies" after its history-making landing last week.

The Zhurong rover was carried into the Martian atmosphere in a lander on Saturday, in the first-ever successful probe landing by any country on its first Mars mission.

Zhurong, named after a mythical Chinese fire god, arrived a few months behind the United States' latest probe to Mars -- Perseverance -- and has been celebrated in China as a milestone in its ascent to space superpower status.

The China National Space Administration on Wednesday published the images taken by cameras attached to the rover, which showed the obstacle-avoidance equipment and solar panels on the vehicle, as well as the texture of the Martian surface.

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"People of the internet, the Mars images you've been longing for are here," the space agency said in a social media post containing the images.

The rover's landing was a nail-biter for Chinese space engineers, with state media describing the process of using a parachute to slow descent and buffer legs as "the most challenging part of the mission".

It is expected to spend around three months there taking photos and harvesting geographical data.

China has come a long way in its race to catch up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in space exploration.

It successfully launched the first module of its new space station last month with hopes of having it crewed by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

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