BEIJING – China’s Tianwen-1 probe returned high-resolution images of Mars’ natural satellite Phobos on Saturday to celebrate the second anniversary of the launch.
Phobos and Deimos are two natural satellites of the red planet. Phobos is the largest, with an irregular shape and no atmosphere, and is the closest satellite to the main star in the solar system.
The Tianwen-1 operations team took advantage of the moment the orbiter was near Phobos and obtained clear images of the satellite in its “full moon” state, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
It is the first time that China has conducted Phobos imaging exploration and obtained first-hand scientific data up close.
It provides valuable data for scientists to study the topography and working laws of Phobos, and gathers experience for China’s planetary exploration program, experts from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said.
The Tianwen-1 probe consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. On May 15, 2021, it touched down at its preselected landing site at Utopia Planitia, a vast Martian plain, marking China’s first probe trip to the planet.