BEIJING (Reuters) – An unmanned Chinese spacecraft has obtained image data covering all of Mars, including images of its south pole, after flying over the planet more than 1,300 times since early last year, state media reported on Wednesday.
China’s Tianwen-1 made it to the Red Planet in February 2021 in the country’s inaugural mission there. Since then, a robotic vehicle has been deployed to the surface as an orbiter has surveyed the planet from space.
Among the images taken from space are China’s first images of the south pole of Mars, where almost all water resources on the planet are shut off.
In 2018, an orbiting probe operated by the European Space Agency discovered water under the ice at the planet’s south pole.
Locating groundwater is central to determining the planet’s potential for life, as well as providing a permanent resource for any human exploration out there.
Other Tianwen-1 images include images of the 4,000-kilometre (2,485-mile) Valles Marineris Valley, the upland impact craters in northern Mars known as the Arabia Terra.
Tianwen-1 also sent back high-resolution images of the vast Maunder crater rim, as well as a top-down view of the 18,000-meter (59,055-foot) Ascraeus Mons, a large shield volcano first discovered by NASA’s Mariner 9. spacecraft for more than five decades.
(Reporting by Ryan Wu. Editing by Jerry Doyle)
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