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Zhurong – Igniting the Flame of China’s Planetary Exploration

Named after a traditional god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology, Zhurong is China's latest addition to planetary exploration.
Video courtesy of CGTN

In 2003, China became the third country to launch a human into space when Yang Liwei and the Shenzhou 5 mission proved successful. Undoubtedly overshadowed by front-runners Russia and the USA, its program has been expanding individually and jointly with the former.

Having been known by Chinese astronomers since the fourth century BCE, the “fire star” or Red Planet as it is commonly known in the West, has been of special interest to these space-exploring nations.

SpaceX and Elon Musk have, in recent times, brought it into the limelight with the quest of making life multi-planetary and NASA’s Perseverance Rover extracted oxygen from the planet just a few days ago.

Nevertheless, there is space in space and China has been edging to see it up close. Just last month, the spacecraft Tianwen-1, China’s first Mars exploration mission, captured staggering images of the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Credit: CNSA

Why stop there? Zhurong is here.

In the backdrop of this progress, China was ready to announce the next steps on the 24th of April in the city of Nanjing. At the opening ceremony of the Chinese Day of Cosmonautics, the name of the anticipated Mars rover was announced.

It would be called “Zhurong” in honor of the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology, according to the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).

Zhurong is the earliest known, traditional fire god. The name of the rover symbolizes that it will “light the fire of space exploration” in China and direct people to continue exploring the “boundless starry sky and the unknown universe.”

The Zhurong rover, which is 185 cm in height and has a weight of around 240 kg, will conduct studies of the surface composition and geological structure of Mars, as well as the meteorological situation on the planet. The designed life span is three Martian months, which equals around 92 Earth days.

At Evolvera, we will continue to follow the story of China’s mission to the Red Planet.

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