October 22, 2020

Chinese mission to Mars sends ‘selfies’ from space



The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has published images taken of herself by the Tianwen 1 probe on the way to Mars, in deep space.

The images, whose release coincided with China’s National Day, show the red five-star flag of China on the fuselage golden orbiter, assembled to silver lander and rover in the darkness of the universe.

The Tianwen-1 flag, which weighs about 144 grams, measures about 39 cm by 26 cm, slightly smaller than a sheet of A3 paper. It was attached to the probe hull with special materials and overprint technology, the CNSA said, quoted by Xinhua.

This is Tianwen-1’s first time taking selfies. The images were captured by a gap measurement sensor installed on the outer wall of Tianwen-1. With commands from ground control on Earth, the sensor detached itself from Tianwen-1 and took a photo every second with its two wide-angle lenses. The images were sent to Tianwen-1 via Wi-Fi and then sent to Earth.

Until midnight on Wednesday Tianwen-1 has flown about 188 million kilometers and is currently 24.10 million kilometers from Earth. All probe systems are in good condition.

China launched the probe to Mars on July 23. It was designed to complete orbit, land and roam on a mission. The probe is expected to reach the red planet around February 2021.

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