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China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter captures a dust storm on Mars

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China’s Tianwen-1 satellite has returned high-resolution photographs of Mars, revealing dust storms on the planet’s surface.

The new images, which have a resolution of 0.5 meters and were released by the China National Space Administration on Thursday, were obtained by a camera on the probe, which has been in orbit for 609 days at a distance of 277 million kilometers from Earth.

The images show track markings left by Mars rover Zhurong. The rover has traveled a total of 1,784 meters on Mars in its 306 Martian days of duty.

Zhurong also took selfies on Mars. When compared to images obtained shortly after it landed on the planet, the latest images revealed a coating of dust that had gathered on its surface.

The rovers’ power supply can be hampered by dust. Chinese scientists have particularly engineered the rover’s solar wing to compensate for the efficiency loss caused by dust accumulation.

According to a statement issued by the Chinese space office, the rover now has enough energy to continue its exploration of Mars.

Since late January, the Tianwen-1 satellite has been monitoring dust activity in Mars’ northern hemisphere, sending back images of regional dust storms in February.

Despite the fact that the Martian northern hemisphere is entering the fall season, which would bring regular dust storms, the administration reports that no noticeable dusty weather has been recorded in the Zhurong rover’s inspection area.

On Thursday, China also released a photo shot by the Tianwen-1 orbiter on March 7 that shows NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance imaging the Jezero Crater, about 200 meters southeast of the American probe’s landing site.

Since its July 23, 2020 launch, the Chinese orbiter has been doing remote sensing of Mars, focused on capturing high-resolution photographs of craters, volcanoes, canyons, dry riverbeds, and other landforms.

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