Is 2020 the ‘Year of the Dragon’ for the Red planet?

Two days before China announced the name and logo of its first-ever Mars exploration mission, the US space agency NASA, on April 22, released an image showing a part of the canyon floor and wall rock on Mars resembling the shape of a dragon

By Author  |  Suyash Maddila  |  Published: 25th Apr 2020  9:53 pmUpdated: 25th Apr 2020  10:28 pm
Red planet
‘Dragon' Feature on Mars capture by the HiRISE camera covers part of the wall rock and canyon floor located in southwestern Melas Chasma on the red planet and “meanders in a pattern resembling a dragon”, as per the space agency. It also said the image was captured on July 4, 2007. Source: NASA/JPL/UArizona

Hyderabad: On Friday, China celebrated its first-ever “China Aerospace Day” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the launch of its first artificial earth satellite, Dongfanghong-1. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) also held an online launching ceremony on the occasion with the theme of “Promoting the Spirit of Space and Embracing the Sea of Stars” that was streamed live on several Internet platforms, including on the space agency’s official website.

During the event, the CNSA also announced the name and logo of China’s first independent mission for Mars exploration which garnered a lot of attention from across the world. A press release issued by CNSA on its official website said that the Chinese planetary exploration mission was named “Tianwen” series and the first Mars exploration mission was named “Tianwen-1”. It said, “The name is derived from Qu Yuan’s long poem “Questions of Heaven”, which expresses the tenacity and perseverance of the Chinese nation’s pursuit of truth, and embodies the cultural inheritance of the exploration of nature and cosmic space.”

The release further adds that the logo for the mission which shows a unique letter “C”, brings together multiple meanings, that includes China’s planetary exploration, international spirit of Cooperation, and enhancing the capability of deep space exploration, demonstrating China’s concept of open space cooperation.

Dragon feature on Mars

However, on Wednesday, two days before the CNSA event, the US space agency, NASA released an image of the Red Planet taken by the High Resolution Imaging Experiment also known as HiRISE, which studies the active surface processes and landscape evolution. The image titled — ‘Dragon’ Feature on Mars capture by the HiRISE camera covers part of the wall rock and canyon floor located in southwestern Melas Chasma on the red planet and “meanders in a pattern resembling a dragon”, as per the space agency. It also said the image was captured on July 4, 2007.

The Chinese Dragon

In Chinese mythology and folklore, the dragons are considered as legendary creatures which symbolises power, both potent and auspicious. They are particularly considered to have control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. It also represents strength and good luck. For centuries, dragons, especially the golden or yellow once, with five claws on each foot, was a symbol of imperial authority in many Chinese dynasties and the royal throne was also called the Dragon Throne.

According to cits.net, the dragon was even adopted as the national flag during the late Qing Dynasty and the carvings of dragons have featured on the imperial palaces and tombs, as on the Forbidden City in Beijing. In modern times, the dragon has been deeply ingrained in Chinese cultural traditions and the worship of the Dragon Kings as rulers of water and weather continues in many regions in the country. Dragon kites are also used in the celebrations on the Chinese New Year.


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