China unveiled the first concept images of its first Mars rover this week during a press event in Beijing that also launched a public competition to pick a name and logo for the probe — which is due to launch in 2020.
"What we're aiming at now is to launch the voyager in July or August of 2020," said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of China's Mars exploration mission, during state-run CCTV coverage of the Aug. 23 announcement. "Our overall concept for this mission is to do it in two stages. Stage One is to materialize orbiting Mars. Stage Two is to land on Mars to collect samples from it, hopefully done before 2030."
Liu Jizhong, deputy director-general of China's Mars exploration mission, director of China's lunar exploration program and space engineering, added: "All the Chinese are looking up to the country's first Mars exploration mission which is an innovative engineering project. China's Mars exploration mission has also drawn attention from the international community. This competitive public campaign to name and logo the voyager can be seen as side-step in the cultural domain."
The public campaign will solicit from the country's citizens a name and a logo for the Mars craft and is being hosted by China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
Competitive entries will be accepted for two months prior to final selection of the Mars vehicle's name and mission logo.
To view the press event, go to this CCTV-Plus video:
Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," to be published by National Geographic this October. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel six-part series coming in November. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook orGoogle+. Originally published on Space.com .