An unmanned Chinese spacecraft has collected imagery from the entire planet Mars, including images of the south pole. The spacecraft has orbited the planet 1,300 times since early last year, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.
The Tianwen-1 reached the red planet in February 2021. A robotic vehicle was placed on the surface while the unmanned spacecraft surveyed the planet from space.
Among the images taken from space are China’s first images of Mars’ south pole, where nearly all of the planet’s water supply is located.
In 2018, a probe led by the European Space Agency (ESA) discovered water under the ice at the planet’s south pole. Locating underground water is key to determining the potential for life on Mars, as well as whether it could provide a permanent source for human exploration.
Also included are photos of the 4,000-kilometre-long gorge of Valles Marineris and Arabia Terra, a highland in the north of Mars that is dotted with impact craters. The Tianwen-1 also relayed good quality footage from the rim of the large crater Maunder.