China's first Mars exploration mission named Tianwen-1

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Photo taken on Nov. 14, 2019 shows the trial ground of an experiment for landing on Mars in Huailai County, north China's Hebei Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's first Mars exploration mission has been named Tianwen-1, announced the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Friday, China's Space Day.

The name comes from the long poem "Tianwen," meaning Questions to Heaven, written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China.

In "Tianwen," Qu Yuan raised a series of questions in verse involving the sky, stars, natural phenomena, myths and the real world, showing his doubts about some traditional concepts and the spirit of seeking the truth.

CNSA said all of China's planetary exploration missions in the future will be named the Tianwen series, signifying the Chinese nation's perseverance in pursuing truth and science and exploring nature and the universe.

CNSA also unveiled the logo of China's planetary exploration missions, featuring the letter C, signifying China, international cooperation and capacity of entering space.

China plans to launch the Mars probe in 2020, aiming to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.

Since 2016, China has set April 24 as the country's Space Day to mark the launch of its first satellite Dongfanghong-1 into space on April 24, 1970. This year is the 50th anniversary of the start of China's entry into space.

The various activities on Space Day have become a window for the Chinese public and the world to get a better understanding of China's aerospace progress.

Zhang Kejian, head of CNSA, said that over the past 50 years, Chinese space engineers and scientists have overcome various difficulties and achieved aerospace development through self-reliance and independent innovation.

He said CNSA is willing to work together with the international community to make new and greater contributions to exploring the mysteries of the universe and promoting human welfare on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, peaceful utilization and inclusive development.

Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner, the Russian crew members of the International Space Station, sent a congratulatory video to China from the space station.

The achievements of China over the 50 years of the establishment of the national space program deserve to be recognized and respected. Although humankind is now facing a severe crisis related to the epidemiological threat, such important anniversaries should not be overshadowed, said the astronauts.

"The fact that the whole country celebrates it allows us to believe not only in overcoming this situation as soon as possible and returning to normal life, but also in successfully solving all future tasks and problems that will be faced by our planet," the astronauts said.

Other space officials and personnel from the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, the International Astronautical Federation, the European Space Agency, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, Brazil, France, Pakistan and Russia also sent congratulatory videos or letters, and expressed the hope to strengthen aerospace cooperation with China.

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