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Chinese Mars Orbiter Watches Zhurong and Perseverance Rovers

China’s first Mars orbiter keeps tabs on multiple robots on the Red Planet’s surface. The Tianwen 1 orbiter captured photos of the Zhurong rover, its partner on the Tianwen 1 Mars mission, and NASA’s Perseverance rover as the two-wheeled robots explored their surroundings.

Tianwen 1 imaged Perseverance on March 7, when the car-sized NASA rover was about200 meters southeast of its landing site. The state-owned broadcaster included that shot in a new 2-minute video highlighting some of the best recent imagery by the Tianwen 1 mission. The video stitches together photos that the China National Space Administration released on Thursday.

The new shots are an undated orbital view of Zhurong and its tracks. Those tracks snake past Zhurong’s parachute and landing platform, showing that the rover inspected some of the hardware that helped it land safely in May 2021. The video also features some photos snapped by Zhurong on the Martian surface. For example, it juxtaposes two selfies taken in May 2021 and January of this year, showing how much dust accumulated on the body of the solar-powered rover during that stretch.

Zhurong and the Tianwen 1 orbiter launched together in July 2020 and arrived at Mars in February 2021. Zhurong stayed attached to the orbiter until May when it separated to perform its historic touchdown, China’s first-ever on the Red Planet.  Zhurong has traveled 1.11 miles (1.78 kilometers) on the Martian surface. The broadcaster added that both it and the Tianwen 1 orbiter are healthy and operating normally.

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