This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.
Tianwen-1’s selfie game is on point. The China National Space Administration’s spacecraft has gifted us a wild video of its adventures in Mars orbit. The footage shows the spacecraft glimmering in the sunlight as shadows move across its surface. Then, Mars makes itself known as the planet’s icy white polar cap races into view.
Journalist Andrew Jones, who covers the Chinese space program for SpaceNews and Space.com, highlighted the video release in a tweet Sunday, calling it a surprise timed to celebrate Chinese New Year.
The Tianwen-1 team shared two remarkable videos in a social media update this week, both captured by the spacecraft’s selfie stick. The second, shorter video shows the process of the stick unfolding.
The selfie stick is just one of the creative ways CNSA has figured out how to do space selfies for its multipronged Mars mission, which includes the orbiter, a lander and a rover. The orbiter had previously released a camera that snapped a series of still portraits. We also got a charming selfie of the Zhurong rover and lander on the Martian surface in June.
The Tianwen-1 mission arrived at Mars early last year and the rover landed in May, making China only the second nation to successfully operate a rover on the surface of the red planet. The mission is ongoing and it continues to offer surprises for space fans back on Earth. The remarkable videos are a rare peek at a Mars spacecraft doing its job.