China unveils first global panoramic images of Mars

By ZHAO LEI and ZHU LIXIN | | Updated: 2023-04-24 09:43
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China published on Monday the first global panoramic images of Mars taken by the country's Tianwen 1 orbiter.

The color images include the Robinson projection, Mercator projection, azimuth projection and orthographic projection of the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the Red Planet, with a spatial resolution of 76 meters.

They were jointly released by the China National Space Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences at a ceremony in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, marking this year's Space Day of China. Space Day falls on April 24 each year in honor of the first Chinese satellite that was launched on the date in 1970.

The panoramas were made through the processing of 14,757 images taken by the mid-definition camera mounted on the Tianwen 1's Martian orbiter during its 284 remote-sensing maneuvers from November 2021 to July 2022.

They are expected to provide better base maps to scientists and engineers around the world to facilitate their research and planning for future expeditions to Mars, the administration said.

Named after an ancient Chinese poem, Tianwen 1 was launched on July 23, 2020, becoming the country's first independent interplanetary exploration endeavor.

The craft traveled about 475 million kilometers and carried out several trajectory maneuvers before entering Martian orbit in February 2021.

The Mars rover Zhurong, named after the god of fire in ancient Chinese legend, touched down on the planet in May 2021 and then began to travel across the Martian surface for science tasks.

Zhurong and the Tianwen 1's orbiter, which is orbiting Mars to relay signals for the rover and is also conducting scientific operations, have transmitted around 1,800 gigabytes of raw data back to Earth.

Zhurong has moved 1,921 meters on the Red Planet and is now in dormancy.

Through the study of images and data from Tianwen 1, Chinese scientists have spotted and identified many geological bodies surrounding the landing site of the Tianwen 1 and have named 22 of them after Chinese villages with renowned historical and cultural heritages.

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