China’s Tianwen-1 probe beamed back high-resolution images of Mars’ natural satellite Phobos on Saturday, marking the second anniversary of the launch. Phobos and Deimos are two natural satellites of the red planet.
Phobos is the larger one with an irregular shape with no atmosphere and the closest satellite to the main star in the solar system.
The Tianwen-1 operation team seized the timing when the orbiter was close to Phobos and obtained clear images of the satellite in its “full moon” state, said the China National Space Administration.
It is China’s first time conducting Phobos imaging exploration and obtaining first-hand scientific data at close range. It provides valuable data for scientists to research Phobos’ topography and operation laws and accumulates experience for China’s planetary exploration program, said experts from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The Tianwen-1 probe consists of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. On May 15, 2021, it touched down on its pre-selected landing area in Utopia Planitia, a vast Martian plain, marking China’s maiden probe voyage on the planet.