BEIJING, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- China has chosen the name "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit) for its first moon rover, after a worldwide online poll challenged people to come up with names.
Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China's lunar program, announced the name at a press conference on Tuesday.
"Yutu is a symbol of kindness, purity and agility, and is identical to the moon rover in both outlook and connotation. Yutu also reflects China's peaceful use of space," said Li.
In Chinese folklore, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of Chang'e, the moon goddess who has lent her name to the Chinese lunar mission.
Legend has it that, after swallowing a magic pill, Chang'e took her pet and flew toward the moon, where she became a goddess, and has lived there with the white jade rabbit ever since.
From Sept. 25 to Oct. 25, Chinese at home and abroad were invited to submit proposals for the rover's name on two websites. About 190,000 proposals were received and a 14-member jury selected the ten most suitable after heated debate.
Popular names included "Tansuo" (Explore) and "Lanyue" (Catch the Moon), according the Beijing Times. Another popular choice was "Qian Xuesen," the late scientist who is considered the father of China's space program.
In the final round of voting, about 650,000 people out of more than 3.4 million chose Yutu, according to Li.
The moon rover is part of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe, which is expected to be launched in early December. The mission is the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
Yutu is scheduled to land on the moon in the middle of December and explore the surface for three months.
If successful, it will be the first time a Chinese spacecraft has soft-landed on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
The rover has two wings, stands on six wheels, and weighs 140 kg. It is a highly efficient and integrated robot that can withstand the vast temperature variations of the moon.
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