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China’s first Mars rover will be named Zhurong after a traditional fire god.

The rover is aboard the Tianwen-1 probe that arrived in Mars orbit on February 24 and is due to land in May to look for evidence of life.

What is Zhurong?

  • It is China’s first Mars rover aboard the Tianwen-1 probe that arrived in Mars orbit in February 2020.
  • It is named after a traditional fire god.
  • The rover is part of Chinese space plans that include launching a crewed orbital station and landing a human on the moon.
  • The rover’s title fits with the Chinese name for Mars i.e. “Huo Xing” or fire star.
  • The top candidate for the landing site is Utopia Planitia, a rock-strewn plain where the U.S. lander Viking 2 touched down in 1976.


  • In 2019, China became the first country to land a space probe on the little-explored far side of the moon and in December returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time.
  • China would become the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a robot rover on Mars.

About Tianwen-1

  • Its goals include analysing and mapping the Martian surface and geology, looking for water ice and studying the climate and surface environment.
  • It is named after the ancient Chinese poem ‘Questions to Heaven’.
  • It is an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover which will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere, among completing other objectives.
  • It lifted off on a Long March 5 rocket, a launch system developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), from the Wenchang launch centre.
  • It will be the first to place a ground-penetrating radar on the Martian surface, which will be able to study local geology, as well as rock, ice, and dirt distribution.

There are five core science objectives:

  1. Create a geological map of Mars.
  2. Explore the characteristics of the Martian soil and potentially locate water-ice deposits.
  3. Analyze the surface material composition.
  4. Investigate the Martian atmosphere and climate at the surface.
  5. Understand the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet.

Source: The Hindu

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