China releases new video, images from its Zhurong Mars rover

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Al Jazeera English 27 June, 2021 - 07:01am 50 views

China releases new videos, images from Mars probe Tianwen-1

The Straits Times 27 June, 2021 - 10:17am

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BEIJING (XINHUA) - The China National Space Administration on Sunday (June 27) released new videos and images of the country's Mars probe Tianwen-1 landing on and exploring the red planet.

The videos show the landing rover deploying its parachute and descending to the Martian surface, and its Mars rover Zhurong driving away from its landing platform and moving over the land.

The images include the Martian landscape and the ruts left behind by the rover.

As of Sunday morning, the orbiter of the Tianwen-1 mission has been operating around Mars for 338 days, and its Earth-Mars distance is approximately 360 million kilometres.

The Mars rover Zhurong has been working on Mars for 42 Martian days and has driven a total of 236 meters.

Zhurong will continue its movement, detection, and scientific exploration missions as planned.

The orbiter will continue to operate in a relay orbit, providing relay communication for the rover's scientific exploration while conducting its own scientific detection operations.

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Hear the 1st sounds from China's Mars rover Zhurong and watch it drive in new video

Space.com 27 June, 2021 - 09:39am

A new video released by China's state-run CCTV news channel today (June 27) shows the first sounds recorded by the Mars rover Zhurong as it drove off its Tianwen-1 lander and onto the Martian surface on May 22. It also includes stunning video of Zhurong driving on Mars captured by stitching together images from a small camera deployed the rover.

"In fact the sounds were made when the pinion of the Mars rover rotates on the rack, or say the clashing sounds between metals," Jia Yang,  Tianwen-1 system deputy chief designer, said in the video according to a CCTV translation. "The purpose we [installed] the recording device is to capture the sounds of wind on Mars during its windy weathers. We really want to hear how the winds sound like on a planet other than the Earth."

Related: China's Tianwen-1 Mars mission in photos

China's Zhurong rover is the centerpiece of the country's Tianwen-1 mission, which delivered an orbiter and the rover to the Red Planet this year. The combined spacecraft launched in July 2020 and arrived in orbit around Mars in February. The Mars rover Zhurong landed on the plains of Utopia Planitia on May 14. It's using six science payloads to study the Red Planet, including its microphone. 

"When we were designing, we wanted to obtain some visual states of the rover, which could be used as a basis for further improvement of the project," said Rao Wei, deputy chief designer of the Tianwen-1 probe, according to CCTV. "Then we designed several parts, including the process of opening the parachute, releasing the canopy and descending."

Those systems appeared to work as planned, with the Tianwen-1 lander descending as designed and then pinpointing a safe landing spot. 

"According to the telemetry, we can see that the landing point is only three kilometers away from our designed position," Rao said. "In general, the landing position is very accurate and the control system is very good."

The 530-lb. (240 kilogram) Zhurong rover is expected to last about 90 Martian days exploring the Red Planet with its high-resolution cameras, subsurface radar, multi-spectral camera and surface composition detector, a magnetic field detector and a weather monitor. The Tianwen-1 orbiter is designed to last a full Martian year, which is about 687 Earth days.

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See and Hear Zhurong Rover Exploring the Surface of Mars | Digital Trends

Digital Trends 27 June, 2021 - 07:53am

Now, as reported by SpaceNews, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has shared video and audio footage of the rover in action, showing parts of the landing process and clips of the rover moving around on Mars. The agency posted the video footage on its website along with an update on the rover’s progress.

The footage includes the rover being deployed on the Mars surface. A lander carried the rover through the atmosphere, then the rover rolled down a ramp so it could move freely around the environment.

Later, the rover left a wireless camera on the ground and filmed itself driving away. The rover then performed a turning maneuver which was also captured. The driving footage includes audio which was captured by an instrument designed to measure the Martian winds. “The audio includes live sounds during the process of turning on the driving mechanism of the rover, driving on a ramp, and driving onto the surface of Mars,” CNSA wrote. “The sound of the rover moving away mainly comes from the driving mechanism, friction between wheels and ramps, and friction between wheels and the ground.”

Further video footage shows the lander’s entry, descent, and landing phase including the deployment of the parachute and the lander moves through the thin Martian atmosphere and the separation of the shell which protects the lander and rover during the process.

Huge Zhurong update: Here's full footage of the Zhurong rover's EDL, showing parachute deployment, backshell separation, and landing, including very cool hover during hazard avoidance phase. [CNSA/PEC] pic.twitter.com/iWUXrFKf40

— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) June 27, 2021

CNSA also released an image captured by the rover, showing its tracks in the martian regolith as it explores Utopia Planitia. The agency says the rover has traveled 236 meters so far over 42 martian days since its deployment onto the surface. It also reports that both the rover and the orbiter and in good condition and that communications with Earth are stable.

The rover will now continue its exploration of Mars, looking for indications of subsurface ice as well as recording information about the martian weather and other topics. The mission is projected to last for 90 Mars days.

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Opinion | China is exporting propaganda while the rest of the world stands idly by

The Washington Post 27 June, 2021 - 07:00am

It’s easy from a faraway vantage point to view the campaign as fumbling and likely fruitless. Yet in China, officials have swayed civilian opinion through a digital version of brute force: vast and rapid content production, followed by vast and rapid promotion on domestic channels. Now, the regime has pushed beyond its borders to post the clips on YouTube, amplify them on Twitter through a network of connected accounts, and spread them further with the help of Chinese officials, state-run media and other nationalist figures with hefty followings. The lack of labeling, feigned spontaneity and sheer volume of one-of-a-kind pieces of content also challenge platforms rooting out manipulation — YouTube has said the clips don’t violate its community guidelines.

China does its best to keep expatriates and students enmeshed in its censorship apparatus even when they are living abroad through controlled social media services like WeChat. Yet this strategy aims to keep the blindfold even on those who find their way to sites with a freer hand toward expression. There is no mistaking the message the videos are trying to send. Just look at 74-year-old Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur activist living in exile here. Her family members appear in several of the clips, with granddaughters she hasn’t seen since they were babies telling her, “I hope you won’t be fooled again by those bad people overseas.” This is hostage-taking.

The recently unearthed operation reveals China’s continued intention to exploit the openness of the United States, its allies and the technology companies their citizens rely on to spread false and regime-friendly political narratives — even as the Great Firewall shuts the rest of the world out for fear that true and critical narratives could make their way in.

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