On February 5, 2021, the China Academy of Space Technology relayed details of Tianwen-1 and its journey to Mars. Per the Fifth Academy of the Aerospace Science and Technology Group noted that the engine ignition of Tianwen-1 “successfully completed the fourth midway correction of the ground fire transfer section to ensure that Mars capture was implemented as planned.” This craft also took a lovely photo of the red planet with its grayscale navigation camera.
Tianwen-1 “acquired the first Martian image” as it reached approximately 2.2 million kilometers from the surface of Mars. To be clear, this is not the first photo of Mars we’ve ever seen, it’s the first photo of Mars captured by this specific craft. At the point at which the update was revealed to the public, the craft had already reached approximately 1.1 million kilometers away from Mars.
It’s reported by the systems administrators in charge of the project that the probe’s systems are “in good condition”. The probe was reported to be around 184 million kilometers from the planet Earth, with a flight mileage of approximately 465 million kilometers. Let’s hope they packed a truly decent collection of mixtapes for said trip – that distance is no joke!
Tianwen-1 has been in orbit for just over 197 days as of February 5, per the China Academy of Space Technology. Imagery provided by the craft and the institution show noteworthy landmarks on the planet.
Compared to the archive image on the left, the photo (shown on the right) shows the Acidalia Plain, Crysse Plain, Ziwu Plateau, Shiapareli Pit, and Sailor Valley, numbered here 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
In September of 2020, Tianwen-1 launched the TDC, a TW-1 Deplyable Camera. This tiny baby camera is a sub-satellite with cameras and a Wi-Fi connection to Tianwen-1. It is from this smaller piece of equipment that we get this photo captured this week.
Above you’ll see another photo captured back in September by this wireless camera. This photo shows Tianwen-1 in all its glory, headed to Mars! This image, via SpaceFlightNow, was shared by the China National Space Administration.
Head back to July 18, 2020 to see when this same mission sat on the launch pad, ready to take off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Hianan Province in southern China.