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Tianwen-1 takes first picture of Mars

Mars as seen by Tianwen-1 for the first time
Click for full image.

The new colonial movement: China’s Tianwen-1Mars spacecraft has taken its first picture of Mars, cropped and reduced to post here to the right.

The photo shows Valles Marineris as the darker splotch in the center-right of the hemisphere, with the northern lowland plain that this canyon feeds into, Chryse Planitia, the triangular dark area to the north east. Both Viking-1 and Mars Pathfinder landed in this region. The whitish border area on the triangle’s eastern flank is the area that Europe’s Rosalind Franklin rover will hopefully land in ’23.

The whitish area that caps the north pole is likely the annual mantle of dry ice that covers the planet’s polar regions down to about 60 degrees latitude each winter. Right now it is early spring in the northern hemisphere, and that mantle has only begun to sublimate away. In another few months that mantle will disappear entirely, exposing the terrain below it.

Finally, the very bright edge on the planet’s eastern limb is either caused by a cloud layer, or is simply an over-exposure. Hard to say which.

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.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

One comment

  • Max

    A fuzzy black and white picture? I expected so much more. They had better pictures in the 50s.
    I’ve taken better pictures through a telescope.
    I was expecting to be impressed, so disappointing.

    If this was a space X camera, with a time lapse color enhanced photography, we would be watching as the ship draws closer, showing Mars growing larger, slowly rotating in all its mystic allure.
    It would be tantalizing, not boring. You can barely make out 3 of the volcanoes. (Valles Marineris is surprisingly distinct)

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