China’s Tianwen-1 probe has sent back its first image of Mars, the national space agency said, because the mission prepares to touch down on Mars later this year. The spacecraft, launched in July round the same time as a rival US mission, is predicted to enter Mars orbit around February 10.

The black-and-white photo released late Friday by the China National Space Administration showed geological features including the Schiaparelli crater and therefore the Valles Marineris, a huge stretch of canyons on the Martian surface. The photo was taken about 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Mars, consistent with CNSA, which said the spacecraft was now 1.1 million kilometers from the earth.

The robotic craft ignited one among its engines to make an orbital correction Friday and was expected to hamper before being captured by Martian gravity around February 10, the agency said. The five-tonne Tianwen-1 includes a Mars orbiter a lander, and a rover that will study the planet’s soil.

China hopes to ultimately land the rover in May in Utopia, a huge impact basin on Mars. After watching us and therefore the Soviet Union lead the way during the conflict, China has poured billions of dollars into its military-led space program.

It has made huge strides within the past decade, sending a person into space in 2003.
The Asian powerhouse has laid the groundwork to assemble an area station by 2022 and gain a permanent foothold in Earth orbit.