NASA reveals birds-eye image of Mars featuring one of the planet’s only residents

This is no ordinary photo of Mars.

The birds-eye view shared by a NASA satellite features a rare cameo from one of the planet’s only residents.

China’s Zhurong rover is visible as a small, purple dot nestled between wind-swept dunes.

The car-sized robot landed on the Red Planet in May 2021 and is one of three stationed there alongside NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance rovers.

Early on in its mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spotted Zhurong and its landing craft from above.

The satellite has now shared its latest snap of the contraption complete with the long and winding tracks it’s left in its wake.

The image was snapped on March 11 by the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

The lander and backshell of the spacecraft are also visible in the composite, which captures the rover’s entire trip across the surface.

“This HiRISE image shows how far the rover has travelled in the 10 months since it landed,” the HiRISE team wrote in a blog post.

“In fact, its exact path can be traced from the wheel tracks left on the surface.”

HiRISE takes pictures that cover vast areas of Martian terrain while being able to pick out features as small as a kitchen table.

It’s helping NASA to better understand the evolution of the planet’s surface.

The team that operates the powerful instrument is based at the University of Arizona.

They’ll continue to analyse images of Zhurong – as well as Mars itself – as the rover continues its journey across the surface.

The rover, which is named after a Chinese mythical fire god, is studying the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere.

As well as examing the geology of the planet, the machine is looking for signs of microscopic life – past and present.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.

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