A 10-name shortlist for the Chang’e 4 lunar rover has been released following the close of a public contest. A final decision on the rover’s name is expected to be announced late next month.
The ten shortlisted Chang’e 4 rover names:
玉兔二号 – Yutu II (Jade Rabbit 2)
精灵 – Genius (fairy or elf)
无畏 – Fearless
望舒 – Wang Shu
征途 – Expedition
行者 – Stroller or Hiker
逐梦 – Zhu Meng (chasing the dream)
光明 – Brightness
金兔 – Golden Rabbit
探索 – Exploration
The China National Space Administration announced the Chang’e 4 rover naming contest in August. Over 40,000 entries were received with Chinese news outlet Xinhua reporting that the oldest entrant was 94-years-old and the youngest just 7. The 10 names selected for the shortlist will now be open for public voting which will close on October 10.
Chang’e 4 mission overview
The Chang’e 4 lunar lander and rover will be the first to attempt a soft landing on the far side of the moon. NASA ‘s Ranger 4 was the first to impact with the far side of the moon in the 1960s. However, the Ranger 4 mission failed to return any scientific data back to Earth. Since then, no other attempts have been made.
Landing on the far side of the moon poses a number of challenges, primary of which is communication. As there is no direct line of sight between Earth and the far side of the moon, the mission required the launching of a dedicated relay satellite. This portion of the Chang’e 4 mission was completed successfully earlier this year with the launch of the Queqiao relay satellite aboard a Long March 4C rocket.
The launch of the Chang’e 4 lunar lander and rover is currently scheduled for December. It will then attempt to land in the Von Kármán crater located in the south Pole-Aitken Basin. It is believed that the Von Kármán crater is the oldest impact feature on the moon.
The Chang’e 4 lander is equipped with a landing camera, terrain camera, low-frequency spectrometer and the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry science payload. Additionally, the lander carries a unique biological experiment. A small container carries seeds and insect eggs. It’s hoped that both the seeds and insects will grow together on the moon creating a temporary biosphere.
The as yet unnamed rover will carry a panoramic camera, lunar penetrating radar, visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer, and the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals science payload.
The Chang’e 4 mission is expected to last 12 months.