The China National Space Administration unveiled on Wednesday details
of the nation's first Mars rover, which will be part of the country's
first independent Mars mission Tianwen 1.
The rover, which has yet to be named, is 1.85 meters tall and weighs
about 240 kilograms. It has six wheels and four solar panels and will be
able to move at 200 meters per hour on Mars, the administration's Lunar
Exploration and Space Program Center revealed at an unveiling ceremony
in Wenchang, a coastal city on the island province of Hainan.
Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, a
major manufacturer of Chinese spacecraft, the rover carries six
scientific instruments including a multispectral camera, subsurface
penetrating radar and a meteorological measuring device. It will use the
instruments to examine Mars' surface compositions, geological
structures, climate and environment.
The vehicle is expected to operate for about three months on the
planet. If the highly autonomous machine works well, it will become the
world's fifth operational Mars rover, following the previous four from
the United States.
Tianwen 1 will soon be launched on its Mars mission carried by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center.
Depending on the two planets' orbits, Mars is 55 million km to 400
million km from Earth. It is estimated it will take the probe seven
months to reach Mars.
Once the probe is in Mars' orbit, the rover will separate from the
probe and descend to the planet's surface with the assistance of an
If Tianwen 1 can fulfill its three scientific objectives－orbiting
Mars for comprehensive observation; landing on the planet's surface; and
exploring Mars' environment, it will become the world's first Mars
expedition to accomplish three such goals in one probe.
Meaning "quest for heavenly truth" in Chinese, Tianwen is named after
a poem by the famed poet Qu Yuan of the Kingdom of Chu during the
Warring States Period (475-221 BC).
Naming the mission after the poem was intended to demonstrate the
Chinese nation's determination to explore deep space and to instill a
love of science in young people, the space administration said.