China is holding a 40-day public vote to help select the name for its Mars rover which is currently closing in on the Red Planet.
The public can now vote for their favorites from a shortlist of 10 names for the Tianwen-1 mission rover.
The 10 names — Hongyi, Qilin, Nezha, Chitu, Zhurong, Qiusuo, Fenghuolun, Zhuimeng, Tianxing and Xinghuo — are taken from ideas including Chinese mythological figures, Confucian concepts and legendary animals.
Notably Hongyi, from the Confucian Analects, can be translated to "persistence" or perseverance, giving a similar meaning to the NASA Perseverance rover also heading for Mars. Others meanings include:
- Zhurong: a god of fire
- Qilin: a Chinese unicorn
- Chitu: red rabbit
- Qiusuo: to explore, referencing an ancient poem
- Zhuimeng: to pursue a dream
- Nezha: a mythological hero
- Fenghuolun: Nezha's weapons
- Tianxing: referring to the motion of celestial bodies
- Xinghuo: spark
The Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center belonging to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced the shortlist on Jan. 18 after soliciting suggestions after the mission launched in July last year.
China's Tianwen-1 mission includes both an orbiter and a rover, and the spacecraft are due to enter orbit around Mars on Feb. 10.
The rover will not attempt its landing until around May. The orbiter will image the landing site and determine the conditions on the ground in preparation for the landing.
Book of Mars: $22.99 at Magazines Direct
Within 148 pages, explore the mysteries of Mars. With the latest generation of rovers, landers and orbiters heading to the Red Planet, we're discovering even more of this world's secrets than ever before. Find out about its landscape and formation, discover the truth about water on Mars and the search for life, and explore the possibility that the fourth rock from the sun may one day be our next home.
If it lands successfully the roughly 530-lb. (240 kilograms) solar-powered rover will investigate the surface soil characteristics and potential water-ice distribution with its Subsurface Exploration Radar instrument. The rover also carries panoramic and multispectral cameras and instruments to analyze the composition of rocks.
The Tianwen-1 mission and the chance to name the rover have generated a fair amount of attention.
"More than 1.4 million entries have been received from 38 countries and regions since we initiated the naming campaign in July 2020. Over 200,000 of them are eligible. The netizens' active participation shows their great care for the Mars mission," Yuan Foyu, director of the naming campaign for China's first Mars rover, told CCTV.
The vote is being hosted by Chinese internet giant Baidu with a deadline of Feb. 28. Judges will then deliberate and announce a final name sometime before the landing.
Tianwen-1 is China's first independent interplanetary mission and it also draws its name from history, with "Tianwen" meaning "Heavenly Questions" or "Questions to Heaven," being taken from a poem written by Qu Yuan (around 340-278 BCE).
Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Space.com Collection: $26.99 at Magazines Direct
Get ready to explore the wonders of our incredible universe! The "Space.com Collection" is packed with amazing astronomy, incredible discoveries and the latest missions from space agencies around the world. From distant galaxies to the planets, moons and asteroids of our own solar system, you’ll discover a wealth of facts about the cosmos, and learn about the new technologies, telescopes and rockets in development that will reveal even more of its secrets.