New Mars Photos Released by China's Tianwen-1 Probe 14 Days After NASA Landing

China's National Space Administration (CNSA) has released new photographs of Mars from its Tianwen-1 probe, which is orbiting the red planet.

Of the three images, two are in black-and-white and one is full color. The medium-resolution color image shows the planet's north pole region, its curvature and signature red hue.

Tianwen-1 color image of Mars
The probe's color image of Mars, with the planet's curvature seen against the blackness of space in the bottom right. China National Space Administration CNSA

The high-resolution black-and-white images show the surface of the Red Planet marked with craters, while sand dunes and ridges are also visible thanks to the sun casting a shadow from the left, out of frame.

The largest crater shown in the images is thought to be around 620 meters across, according to the space agency.

Black and white photo of Mars
In this black and white photo, many craters can be seen marking the surface of Mars. China National Space Administration CNSA
Black and white photo of Mars
Ridges and dunes are also visible, thanks to the angle of the sun. China National Space Administration CNSA

Tianwen-1 took the black-and-white pictures when it was at an altitude of between 205 and 217 miles above the planet's surface.

Tianwen-1 entered Mars orbit on February 10 2021, in a month which also saw the arrival of NASA's Perseverance rover and the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe.

Tianwen-1 consists of two parts—an orbiter that will circle Mars from above, and a rover, like Perseverance, which will descend to the planet's surface some time between May and June.

Until then, the probe will spend more time surveying Mars and will also alter its orbital course a number of times before a landing spot for the rover is selected, according to China's state-affiliated Global Times newspaper.

The rover and lander will then detach from the orbiting probe before making a landing attempt.

Like the team behind Perseverance, scientists at the CNSA will have to endure the so-called seven minutes of terror, where the landing procedure happens so quickly that signals cannot travel between the Earth and Mars fast enough to make any difference. As such, the lander must face any potential issues on its own.

When it does touch down, CNSA will aim to operate the rover on the surface of Mars for 92 Earth days. The orbiter, meanwhile, should operate for as long as 687 Earth days.

On February 23, Tianwen-1 performed a burn that altered its orbit around the planet, setting the stage for the probe to begin taking sharper photos and preparing scientific instruments.

Tianwen-1 launched from China's Wenchang spaceport on July 23rd 2020 when it set off on its 295 million mile journey to Mars.

On February 5, CNSA released the first photo that Tianwen-1 took of Mars ahead of its orbital insertion the following week.