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China's first Mars mission named Tianwen 1

Picture released on Aug 23, 2016 by the lunar probe and space project center of Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence shows the concept portraying what the Mars rover and lander would look like. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's planetary exploration program has been named Tianwen, or Quest for Heavenly Truth, the China National Space Administration announced on Friday.

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.

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 country's first Mars mission, which is expected to take place in the coming months, was named Tianwen 1, the administration said.

It also released the planetary exploration program's emblem. The shape of the letter C, it incorporates the elements of China, cooperation and capability in deep-space expedition.

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.

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.

Ye Peijian, a leading scientist in deep-space exploration at the academy, said the probe will land on the Martian surface before July 2021.


The logo of China's first Mars exploration mission


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