Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

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China releases images of Tianwen-1 on way to Mars

Tianwen-1 on its way to Mars

China has released several images taken of its Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover by a camera ejected by the spacecraft on its way to Mars.

The images released by the China National Space Administration on Oct. 1 show the Tianwen 1 spacecraft traveling through the blackness of space. Tianwen deployed a small camera to take the self-portrait as it tumbled away from the mothership.

Two wide-angle lenses on the deployable camera were programmed to one image every second. The images were transmitted back to Tianwen via a wireless radio link, then downlinked back to ground teams in China.

In the images, Tianwen 1’s solar array wings and dish-shaped high-gain communications antenna are prominently visible. The white section of the spacecraft is the mission’s entry module and heat shield, which contains a Chinese rover designed to land on Mars and explore the surface.

The spacecraft is about halfway to Mars, and will arrive in Mars orbit in February. It will then spend several months surveying its candidate landing sites, of which there appear to be two, before releasing the lander/rover to the surface.


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  • mpthompson

    It is pretty cool that China put such a mechanism in place for a self-portrait. Probably as much for marketing purposes as it is for engineering purposes. It seems the type of thing Musk would do.

    It would be useful and thoughtful if NASA was thinking of doing such a thing on the James Webb telescope given how expensive it will be. At least give the public a picture of what all the billions of dollars the money was spent on rather than artist impressions. Of course, to do such a simple thing NASA’s contractors would probably add 10’s of millions of dollars to the project rather than 10’s of thousands.

  • Captain Emeritus

    NOTHING the barbaric, murderous, Chinese Communists do is “pretty cool”.

  • Captain Emeritus: As evil as the Chinese rulers are, the engineers and scientists who launched this mission have still accomplished something grand and worthy of admiration. Let us not apply our righteous anger at their leaders and apply it to this entire nation. To do so makes you no different than that evil leadership.

  • wayne

    I’m sure some of the NAZI-technicians at the V-2 production site at Peenemünde were wonderful people, as well.

    Captain Emeritus-
    Well stated.

    Minuteman III launch animation

  • mpthompson

    NOTHING the barbaric, murderous, Chinese Communists do is “pretty cool”.

    Can we be sure the scientist/engineers who put this feature into the probe are the “barbaric, murderous, Chinese Communists”. Or, are they the innocent victims of the “barbaric, murderous, Chinese Communists” just trying to push man’s knowledge forward despite the authoritarian political circumstances they find themselves in?

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