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On Friday, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) revealed in a statement the name of its new Mars mission. The ambitious mission is set to be named "Tianwen 1" after the country's planetary exploration program "Tianwen," which means "quest for heavenly truth."
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Named after a poem
"The program was named after a long poem by the famous ancient poet Qu Yuan of the Kingdom of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). He is known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry and verses, especially through the poems of the Chu Ci anthology, also known as Songs of Chu," wrote the Chinese space agency in its statement.
"The name represents the Chinese people's relentless pursuit of truth, the country's cultural inheritance of its understanding of nature and universe, as well as the unending explorations in science and technology."
The space agency also revealed that the mission would take place in the coming months. China already undertook its successful first public test of a Mars lander in November last year, putting it on track to meet its Mars deadline.
This is an impressive feat as to date only the United States and the former Soviet Union have landed spacecraft on Mars. However, it should be noted that the European Space Agency and India have succeeded in sending crafts to the planet's orbit.
The Martian probe
"According to the administration, the country's first Martian probe will conduct scientific investigations about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere as well as water," explained CNSA in its statement.
"The robotic probe will consist of three parts – the orbiter, the lander, and the rover. The rover will have six wheels and four solar panels and will carry 13 scientific instruments. It will be more than 200 kilograms in weight and will work about three months on the planet, said Sun Zezhou, the probe's chief designer at the China Academy of Space Technology."