China’s space mission continues to reach new milestones. Tianwen 1 (Tianwen-1) has just captured some spectacular images from Mars since its mission debut last year, according to media agency Reuters.
In China’s first mission on this planet, the unmanned spacecraft successfully approached Mars in February 2021. Since then, it has orbited the planet more than 1,300 times and collected image data of the entire planet.
In addition to surprisingly clear images taken from space, Tianwen 1 also succeeded in capturing the first images of Mars’ the South Pole, the largest reservoir of water on Mars.
Previously, data indicated that the majority of the planet’s water is submerged a few kilometers below the planet’s surface.
In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander confirmed the presence of ice on Mars, containing the same composition as the water we have on Earth. In 2018, an orbital probe operated by the European Space Agency discovered water under the ice at the south pole of Mars.
It is a key discovery in determining the planet’s ability to support life. Water is also a long-term resource for human exploration on Mars.
Tianwen also acquired other stunning images, including images of the Valles Marineris canyon, whose length is 4,000 kilometers, and Arabia Terra, the only region with evidence of volcanic eruptions on Mars.
Tianwen 1 also sent back high-resolution images of the rim of the vast Maunder lunar impact crater, as well as a top-down view of the 18,000-meter-tall Ascraeus Mons.
This is a large shield volcano that was first discovered by NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft more than five decades ago.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) started 2022 with the release of four images of Mars taken by the Tianwen 1 from space in January. The spacecraft currently operates at a distance of 350 million kilometers from Earth.
Initially launched from the Wenchang Spach Launch Center in 2020, China’s Tianwen 1 has traveled into space with an orbiter, a lander, and a probe.
The spacecraft reached Mars in the next seven months following the launch. The spacecraft mission is a significant milestone in China’s ambitious space exploration.
Images of Mars taken by China’s Tianwen-1 unmanned probe is seen in this handout image released by China National Space Administration (CNSA) on June 29, 2022. CNSA/Handout via REUTERS