Space news: China’s Mars rover Zhurong releases new pictures of parachute from the Red Planet

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China’s Mars rover, Zhurong, has captured new images of the Red Planet.

The images, released by the China National Space Administration, show the rover’s parachute and partially burnt but still intact protective shell on the ground, with the rover in one corner.

Zhurong was 30m away from the shell and 350m away from the landing site when the pictures were taken, according to the CNSA.

China’s Mars probe was launched in July last year and touched down on Mars on May 14 this year, making China the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars.

Since landing it has covered about 450m of Martian territory.

The burnt protective shell (far left), the deflated parachute (far right) and part of China’s Zhurong Mars rover. Credit: China National Space Administration

Zhurong has been working on the red planet for 60 Martian days – over 61 Earth days – with plans to explore the planet for a total of 90 Martian days.

The six-wheeled rover is surveying an area known as Utopia Planitia, especially searching for signs of water or ice that could lend clues as to whether Mars ever sustained life.

Zhurong’s wheel tracks on Mars.
Zhurong’s wheel tracks on Mars. Credit: China National Space Administration
The parachute and the shell in a picture taken from the back camera of the rover.
The parachute and the shell in a picture taken from the back camera of the rover. Credit: China National Space Administration

The rover is equipped with instruments that can analyse Mars’ surface elements and minerals, a climate station, and a ground-penetrating radar, Space News reports.

But at 1.85m in height, Zhurong is significantly smaller than the US’s Perseverance rover, which is exploring the planet with a tiny helicopter called Ingenuity.

NASA’s Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18.

– with AAP

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