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China's Tianwen-1 Mars mission delivers first gorgeous high-def images

China's intrepid spacecraft got a glorious eyeful of Mars.

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This color view of Mars is one of the first high-def images of the planet sent back by China's Tianwen-1 probe.

CNSA

China's ambitious Tianwen-1 mission has given us some new, high-definition views of Mars to marvel over. In early February, we saw the spacecraft's first haunting view of the red planet. The new snapshots are much more detailed.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) shared the images on Thursday. Perhaps the most striking is a color view of Mars' north pole. Two other images are black-and-white views of scenic craters and ridges on the surface.

Tianwen-1 is made up of an orbiter, a lander and a six-wheeled rover. China is taking its time before attempting the delivery of its landing capsule to the surface of the planet. It's scheduled to spend a few months in orbit before the big day.

This scenic view from China's Tianwen-1 mission shows a crater on the surface of Mars.

CNSA

According the CNSA statement, the rover could land in May or June in the southern part of Mars' Utopia Planitia, a plains area located in a large impact basin. The region is famous for hosting NASA's Viking 2 mission, which landed there in 1976.

"All of the seven mission payloads on the orbiter will be gradually activated during the probe's stay in the parking orbit to carry out scientific tasks and also to observe and analyze the landforms and weathers of the optimal landing site," CNSA said.  

February was a big month at Mars as NASA successfully landed its Perseverance rover on the planet and the United Arab Emirates' Hope Mars probe entered orbit.

The space agencies are just getting started. NASA's rover is making its first moves as it embarks on its science mission to seek out signs of ancient microbial life. Hope will be studying the planet's atmosphere and weather. 

The next gripping storyline will be whether or not Tianwen-1's rover makes it safely to the surface. We'll stay tuned.

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