Photos show Chinese rover on dusty, rocky Martian surface

BEIJING (AP) - The dusty, rocky surface of Mars and a Chinese rover and a Chinese lander with small national flags were featured in photos released on Friday taken by the rover on the red planet.
The four images released by the China National Space Administration also show the upper stage of the Zhurong rover and the view from the rover before it rolled off its platform.
Zhurong placed a remote camera about 10 meters from the landing pad and then retired to take a group portrait, the CNSA said.
China landed the Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which carries the rover, on Mars last month after orbiting the red planet for about three months. China is the second country after the US to land and operate a space probe on Mars.
The orbiter and lander both display small Chinese flags and the lander has outlines of the mascots for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The six-wheeled rover explores an area known as Utopia Planitia, specifically looking for signs of water or ice that could provide clues as to whether Mars ever lived.
With a height of 1.85 meters, Zhurong is significantly smaller than the US rover Perseverance, which explores the planet with a tiny helicopter. NASA expects their rover to collect its first sample for return to Earth as early as 2031.
In addition to the Mars mission, China's ambitious space program plans to send the first crew to its new space station next week. The three crew members plan to stay at Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony Station for three months, which is far longer than any previous Chinese mission. You will do space walks, construction and maintenance work, and conduct scientific experiments.
Further launches are planned to expand the station, send supplies and swap crews. China has also brought back lunar samples, the first in a country's space program since the 1970s, landing a probe and rover on the lesser-explored far side of the moon.

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