China is preparing to launch its first mission to Mars in the “next few months”, announced China’s National Space Administration (CNSA).
The mission was named Tianwen-1, which means “Quest for Heavenly Truth”. According to the Spanish news agency Europa Press, the name was inspired by poetry written more than 2,000 years ago.
In the poem in question, the ancient poet Qu Yuan (475-221 BC) of the Chu hegemonic state, during the Zhou dynasty, questioned traditional narratives about the mythology of the time, especially about space, the Earth, and other natural events.
“[Qu Yuan] is known for his patriotism and his contributions to classical poetry and verses, especially through the Chu Ci anthology, also known as Chu Songs,” the CNSA said in a statement.
And they add: “The name [of the mission] represents the Chinese people’s relentless search for truth, the country’s cultural heritage of their understanding of nature and the Universe, as well as countless explorations in the field of science and technology.”
The mission intends to send a space vehicle to the surface of the Red Planet to study its atmosphere, environment, and soil composition. The rover will be accompanied by an orbiter and a landing module, and all three will be equipped with scientific instruments.
Ye Peijian, a leading scientist in space exploration at CNSA, revealed that the spacecraft will land on the Martian surface before July 2021. If the mission is successful, China will be the third country to successfully land a space vehicle on Mars, after the United States and Russia.