China to unveil Mars rover name, exhibit lunar samples in Nanjing on Space Day
Published: Apr 20, 2021 06:18 PM
Photo: courtesy of CNSA

Photo: courtesy of CNSA

China will unveil the name of its first-ever Mars rover on Saturday, as part of the celebrations of this year's national Space Day, Global Times has learned from the China National Space Administration (CNSA.)

Themed "Voyaging into space, pursuing dreams," this year's Space Day celebrations will take place in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, according to CNSA, one of the hosts of the event.

China launched the Tianwen-1 Mars probe on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the parking orbit of Mars after performing an orbital maneuver in February. 

Tianwen-1 is expected to make a landing attempt on the Red Planet some time between May and June.

The global campaign to name the rover kicked off in July 2020. Netizens from all over the world were invited to vote for their favorite out of 10 candidates from January 20 to February 28. Last month, three possible names emerged, with "Zhurong," the fire god in ancient Chinese mythology, topping the list, Global Times previously reported.

Adding to the excitement, moon samples retrieved by China's Chang'e-5 robotic lunar probe, the return capsule of the probe and its parachutes, will be displayed at the public exhibition held in Nanjing, the first display of its kind to be held outside Beijing, CNSA said.

With the complete success achieved by the Chang'e-5 probe in 2020, China has become the third country to have successfully brought lunar samples to Earth, after the US and the former Soviet Union, and the first country to achieve the feat in more than four decades.

CNSA has also unveiled the official poster for this year's Space Day, which was decorated with the glorious symbols of recent and upcoming achievements in the country's aerospace industry.

These symbols include the lander of the Chang'e-5 lunar probe on moon, the Long March-5B carrier rocket which made a successful maiden flight in May 2020, and a satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, or BDS.

Also, images of China's upcoming space station as well as the Tianwen-1 Mars probe can also be found in the poster, providing a peek into future plans of the country's space advances. 

Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based senior space expert who participated in the poster review process, told the Global Times on Tuesday that elements included in the poster were selected according to strict standards, with both scientific value and accuracy taken into account.

"They have to be Chinese space milestones within the year or in the near future," he added.

The Nanjing-based Purple Mountain Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is also featured in the poster to indicate the center of celebrations of this year's Space Day. 

China designated April 24 as Space Day in 2016 to mark the anniversary of the country's first satellite launch Dongfanghong-1 in 1970.

The China Space Conference will also be held in Nanjing starting Friday, where academicians will deliver speeches on aerospace technology breakthroughs and the challenges in human space exploration.

Global Times learned from the conference host on Tuesday that topics including visions and plans for constructing an Earth-moon space ecology circle will be discussed at the conference sessions. 

Ye Peijian, the "father of Chang'e lunar probes" and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will deliver a keynote speech on China's future asteroid exploration at the event.