Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

As China’s Tianwen-1 Mars spacecraft circles the Red Planet, back here on Earth, a trio of names is being weighed for the country’s first Mars rover.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The suggested names are the product of a 40-day global online poll. They are:

— “Zhurong,” a fire god in ancient Chinese mythology.

— “Nezha,” a Chinese mythological figure.

— “Hongyi,” which means having a broad and strong mind in Chinese.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) in January unveiled a list of 10 selections for the name after a global naming campaign that kicked off in late July 2020.

Online participants from China and abroad were invited to vote on 10 candidates from January 20 to February 28.

China’s three-in-one mission: An orbiter, lander, and rover.
Credit: Wan, W.X., Wang, C., Li, C.L. et al.

According to the Xinhua news agency, starting today, a panel of experts will also vote for the final candidates. The CNSA will decide the top three names based on public voting and expert opinions.

China launched Tianwen-1 on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered a parking orbit at Mars after performing an orbital maneuver on February 24.

The orbiter is set to unleash its entry vehicle that encapsulates the lander/rover in the May-June time period.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Walk like an insect, move like a crab

As recently reported by China Central Television (CCTV), the six-wheeled Mars rover is equipped with four cameras of two kinds: one can detect things in distance to plan the route while the other can catch a wider view to avoid obstacles. These two types of cameras would coordinate the robot’s movements, to move forward or to stop.

CCTV adds that the rover is able to walk like an insect to climb out of pits or move sideways like a crab to overcome obstacles.

Credit: Zou Yongliao, et al.

Outfitted with four solar panel wings, those wings are organized in butterfly-fashion and can be easily folded up.

“The rover, highly sensitive to the environment, can automatically suspend the work in severe weathers to protect the equipment and resume work when the weather turns better,” according to CCTV.

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