China names its Mars mission
China on 24 April 2020 named its first Mars exploration mission to be launched later this year as Tianwen-1 as it celebrated 'Space Day' to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of the country's first satellite Dong Fang Hong-1 in 1970. Aiming to catch up with India, US, Russia and the European Union to reach the red planet, China's Mars mission plans to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.
- China National Space Administration (CNSA) named the Mars mission as "Tianwen," which means Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven, a poem written by China's well known poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).
- 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.
- The 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.
- China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon.
- It is currently building a space station of its own. However, China's attempts to send an exploratory probe to Mars called Yinghuo-1, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed as shortly after the launch and it was declared lost and later burnt during re-entry.
- The US, Russia, the EU besides India so far succeeded in sending missions to Mars regarded as the most complex space mission.
- India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission, Mangalyaan which has entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014.
- India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt.