China reveals name of Mars mission, which will take place in 'coming months'

Concept illustration released in 2016 by the lunar probe and space project center of Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence shows what the Mars rover and lander would look like.

(CNN)China's space agency revealed the name of its first Mars exploration mission on Friday, and said the mission is on track to take place "in the coming months."

The mission has been named "Tianwen 1," the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement on Friday, following the naming of the country's planetary exploration program "Tianwen," meaning "quest for heavenly truth."
The program was named after a long poem by ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan, according to CNSA.
    China completed its first public test of a Mars lander in November last year, keeping the country on track for an unmanned exploration mission to the red planet in 2020.
    This aerial photo taken on April 17, 2019 shows "Mars Base 1", a C-Space Project, in the Gobi desert, some 40 km from Jinchang in China's northwest Gansu province on April 17, 2019.
    The space agency said the mission to Mars is due to take place "in the coming months," according to a statement released on Friday.
    So far, the United States and the former Soviet Union are the only two countries to land a spacecraft on Mars, but the European Space Agency and India have successfully sent spacecraft to enter the planet's orbit.
    The probe will study the soil, geological structure, environment and atmosphere of Mars, according to CNSA.
    The robotic probe will be made up of an orbiter, lander and a six-wheeled rover, which will have solar panels and carry 13 scientific instruments, according to CNSA. The administration said the probe is due to land on Mars before July 2021, after which the 200-kilogram (441-pound) machine will work for around three months.
    Last year, China announced it had opened a Mars simulation base in Qinghai's Qaidam Basin, a hyper-arid region in western China that is the highest desert on Earth and long considered one of the best parallels with the Martian surface on our own planet.