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China’s Mars Probe Tianwen-1 Sends Home Selfies Captured 15 Million Miles From Earth

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KEY POINTS

  • The CNSA released new selfies of Tianwen-1 captured 15 million miles away from Earth
  • The Mars probe took images of itself using a tiny camera ejected from the spacecraft
  • Tianwen-1 is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021

Talk about a clever way to take self-portraits in space! Tianwen-1 has snapped some selfies while in outer space using a camera ejected from its spacecraft.

While on its way to Mars, Tianwen-1 sent home new images of itself captured 15 million miles away from Earth. They were released by the China National Space Administration earlier this month as part of the country’s national day celebrations.

The small camera the Mars probe used to snap selfies had wide-angle lenses on each side and took one photo every second. It sends the images it takes to Tianwen-1, which would then transmit the pictures to Earth.

One of the many photos snapped by the camera is a close-up of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft that shows its two silver solar arrays and the conical aeroshell containing the mission’s rover. Another photo was taken from farther away and showcases the vastness of outer space surrounding Tianwen-1 as it makes its way to its mission.

The little photoshoot went both ways as the Tianwen-1 also took images of the tiny camera while it was being jettisoned into outer space and leaving the spacecraft.

Tianwen-1 was launched by China on July 23 aboard the Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. This mission is considered to be China’s first attempt at reaching and eventually landing on the red planet.

If all goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 should arrive on Mars in February 2021. The rover will land on the red planet’s surface somewhere along Utopia Planitia, a large empty

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Here’s the first ‘selfie’ of China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft on its way to Mars

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tw1-crop

Tianwen-1 is en route to Mars, hoping to make China the third nation to successfully land on the red planet.


Chinese Lunar Exploration Program

This is our first look at China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft on the way to Mars. Against the black backdrop of the eternal void, but shining in the sun, Tianwen-1 has its solar panels The Martian exploration mission, which launched in July, is travelling away from the Earth and scheduled to reach the red planet in Feb. 2021 and make a controlled landing in May.

The image was released by the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. In a blog post, the team write the probe is now nearly 15 million miles from the Earth and is “in good condition.” The post details how the golden orbiter and silver landing device are “shining brightly” and highlights China’s national flag, which can be seen on the bottom right corner of the probe. 

It also claims this is the first “deep space self-portrait” of a Chinese probe. It’s a selfie. Of a spacecraft. On the way to Mars.

2020 ain’t so bad, I guess.

The camera took a few pictures and then became space junk.


CNSA/CLEP

To snap the image, Tianwen-1 released a tiny, wide-angle camera. You can see it being hurled away from the spacecraft. As it departed it took an image every second and then relayed the images back to the spacecraft, which forwarded them back to Earth. The camera had a single mission and, until it reaches another planetary body, it’s doomed to drift aimlessly in space, adding