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Planetary Nomenclature: “Features that do not need to be named now are left to be named by future generations.”

March 18, 2014

From the WGPSN website:

“Official names for planetary surface features are not for sale. TheInternational Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature provides a unique system of official names for planetary surface features, natural satellites, dwarf planets, and planetary rings for the benefit of the international science community, educators, and the general public. A single system of official names is critical for effective scientific communication. The IAU first became involved with planet and satellite nomenclature in 1919 to standardize the multiple, confusing systems of nomenclature for the Moon that were then in use. Since that time, the IAU has provided the single, reliable,official catalog of surface feature names, thus enabling successful international communication. The IAU names surface features only when they have special scientific interest and the names are needed for communication; features that do not need to be named now are left to be named by future generations.

Names purchased through a commercial enterprise (1) have no formal or official status, (2) will not be added to the official database or maps, and (3) carry the potential to create confusion within the broader science community and the public. The IAU dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of selling names. Please visit the Mars portion of the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for the official list of named features on Mars. “

In Memoriam – Kira B. Shingareva

September 17, 2013

“If one says the words planet and map together, Kira Borisovna Shingareva is the number one figure”, the Russian weekly Russkij Reporter wrote in 2010. She certainly was the driving force behind planetary cartographic activities at all levels as a professor at MIIGAiK, the Moscow State University for Geodesy and Cartography. Her students of extraterrestrial geography include students from high school to university and post-graduate levels and even her colleagues.

Kira Shingareva graduated from MIIGAiK in 1959 as an astronomo-geodesist and was admitted to the Dresden University. She graduated from the Technical University of Dresden in 1961, received her PhD in 1974, and became a Doctor of Science in 1992. She has held the position of principal scientist at the Laboratory of Comparative Planetology at the Space Research Instutute at the Academy of Science untill 1977.

Between 1976 and 1978 Kira Shingareva completed a second degree in economics from the Lomonosov Moscow State University at the Faculty of International Relations. From 1977 until recently, she worked at the Department of Economics and Business of MIIGAiK, successfully combining teaching in a number of scientific disciplines with her work in the Planetary Cartography Laboratory of MIIGAiK .

Shingareva participated in the Russian National Space program by mapping the Moon, Mars, Phobos and Venus and selecting landing sites for the early Moon probes. Her effective management enabled MIIGAiK to carry out its planetary cartographic activities when financial aids stopped due to the Mars-96 spacecraft failure. She also helped revive the laboratory as MexLab (MIIGAiK Extraterrestrial Laboratory or Comprehensive Laboratory of Studies of Extraterrestrial Territories) in 2010 which provided a place of work and study for 50 students and young scientists and made it one of the key international planetary science centers of Russia.

Shingareva was concerned not only with the geographic and cartographic aspects of planetary bodies, but also with place names: starting in the late 1960s, she helped the development of the planetary nomenclature. Her first presentation at the IAU 1967 meeting was about the proposed new nomenclature of the far side of the Moon; that was a starting point in restructuring the system of planetary nomenclature. She was also vice-chairman of the Space Toponymics Commission  of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She believed that the management of planetary toponyms should be passed from IAU to an interdisciplinary UN commission of geographers, geologists, and phylologists.

Shingareva’s main collaborative project with her colleagues was the creation of the Atlas of Terrestrial Planets and their Moons (1992) the preparatory work for which took 12 years. The atlas was digitized and translated into English in 2007. Based on this work, Shingareva initiated the production of the series “Multilingual Maps of the Terrestrial Planets and their Moons“. Both of these projects are unique and aim to show the results of planetary discoveries to a wide and international audience in a cartography-based format.

She co-authored a high school textbook entitled “Geography of extraterrestrial territories” (2009) which, along with the new, high-school-targeted version of the atlas (Atlas of the Solar System, 2005) now provides the foundation of planetology education in Russia.

Kira Shingareva was the driving force behind the ICA’s Planetary Cartography Working Group (co-chair: 1995–1999) and Commission (chair: 1999–2007). She was also an outstanding organizer of scientific activities, playing main role preparing the 23rd International Cartographic Conference held in Moscow in 2007. Since 2007, she was an honorary member of the International Cartographic Association.

She showed tireless commitment and enthusiasm to planetary cartography, which she passed on to subsequent generations. She lived during the most exciting era of planetary explorations, at a time when she had to make the most out of the limited resources available. As she said, we move forward, step by step.

Kira Shingareva died on Sunday 15 September.

She is commemorated by the main-belt asteroid 294595 Shingareva and the small but very unusual Lunar farside crater Kira, named by her American colleagues, which will be another planetary reminder of her. 

H. Hargitai, I. Karachevtseva and MIIGAiK Extraterrestrial Laboratory (MExLab) team

In this audio recording, made in 2004, Kira Shingareva speaks about the first atlas of the far side of the Moon.

The biography of Kira Shingareva is included in the book Map Worlds: A History of Women in Cartography (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013) by Will Van Den Hoonaard.

Selected papers

Shingareva, K.B. (1967) ‘Presentation on Lunar Nomenclature’. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth General Assembly, 17. Commission de la Lune. Section 2 on Lunar Nomenclature. IAU, Prague. 

Shingareva K. B. (1973) Cartographic study of the Lunar surface (картографическая изученность лунной поверхности in:  серия  исследование космического пространства  том 5 москва 1973) Space Research Series Volume 5 Moscow.

Shingareva, K.B.; Burba, G.A. (1977) ‘The Lunar nomenclature: The reverse side of the Moon (1961-1973)’. (Лунная номенклатура. Обратная сторона Луны. 1961–1973). Nauka. Moscow. Originally in Russian, In English translation: NASA-TM 75035. (NASA)

Marov MYa, Krasnopevtseva BV, Shingareva KB (scientific editors), Bolshakov VD, Kremnev RS (editors) (1992) Atlas of Terrestrial Planets and their Moons (Атлас планет Земной группы и их спутников). Miigaik, Moscow.

Shingareva, K.B., Dorrer E. (2002) Space Activity in Russia – Background, Current State, Perspectives. Universitat der Bundeswehr Munchen

Shingareva, K.B.; Sakovnina, O.V.; Pugacheva, S.G. (nd) Solar System relief feature nomenclature (Номенклатура деталеи рельефа тел Солнечнои Системы) MIIGAIK.

Shingareva, K.B., Zimbelman J., Buchroithner, M.F., and Hargitai, H.I. (2005) ‘The Realization of ICA Commission Projects on Planetary Cartography’ Cartographica, vol. 40, no. 4, 105-114.

Shingareva K.B., B.V.Krasnopevtseva, James R. Zimbelman, Egon Dorrer (2005) Compilation Of A Glossary On International Terms Related  To Planetary Cartography. 

Karachevtseva I., Oberst J., Scholten F., Konopikhin А., Shingareva K., Cherepanova E., Gusakova E., Haase I., Peters O., Plescia J., Robinson M. (2013) Cartography of the Lunokhod-1 Landing Site and Traverse from LRO Image and Stereo Topographic Data. Planetary and Space Science, Vol. 85, p. 175–187. (published September 1, 2013 )

Wählisch M., Stooke P.J., Karachevtseva I.P., Kirk R., Oberst J., Willner K., Nadejdina I.A., Zubarev A.E., Konopikhin A.A., Shingareva K.B. Phobos and Deimos cartography, (2013) Phobos and Deimos cartography.  Planetary and Space Science,

IN PRINT: Hargitai, H., Li C., Zhang Z., Zuo W., Mu L., Li H., K.B. Shingareva, and V.V. Shevchenko. (2013, accepted) Chinese and Russian Language Equivalents of the IAU Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature: An Overview of Planetary Toponym Localization Methods. Cartographic Journal.

Phobos-GIS is now available from MexLab

September 12, 2013

New interactive GIS of Phobos, moon of Mars, based on new results of image processing of Mars Express data are now available online from MIIGAiK, Moscow. The GIS was presented by Irina Karachevtseva, head of MexLab at MIIGAiK, at the iCC2013 conferece.

MIIGAiK MexLab Phobos map



Interface of the digital multilayer Phobos map

Irina Karachevtseva presents MIIGAiK's results


Irina Karachevtseva presents MIIGAiK’s results



Phobos GIS:

Phobos Topographic Map (MexLab 2012)

Phobos Crater Zone Statistics:

New Hypsometric Mars Globe from Sternberg Institute

September 5, 2013

The last corrections of a new 15 cm diameter Mars Globe are being made now at Sternberg State Astronomical Institute (SAI), in cooperation with Space Research Institute in Moscow, Russia. The preliminary globes – 10 copies – has been made earlier and were presented at the ICC2013 conference.

We call it the green Mars globe (not to be confused with Green’s Mars map that happens to display greenish hues). It’s new color scheme shows subtle colors that doesn’t resemble any of the previous color schemes used in planetary cartography. This layout is a modification of an earlier map, published in 2004.

It’s worth noting that the Lunar LRO map by NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio/MIT/SVS, created in 2010, used yellowish green  to represent the mare elevations for the first time in a Lunar map, giving it a much warmer appearance than the previously used light blue color.

The nomenclature on the Russian Mars globe is shown only in Latin. The globe is unique in that it is a purely cartographic product and not a photomosaic. It shows the contour lines using MOLA data at 1 km intervals (2 km intervals 8-12 km and 10 km above 12 km of height).

The globe was made using the thermoplastic technology. The original hemisphere prepared with the image is placed in the plastic molding device, and at high temperature using a metal template the hemispheres are pressed. Western and Eastern hemispheres were recut as the northern and southern hemispheres in the azimuthal projection taking into account the law of deformation occurring during forming of the p lane in the hemisphere.

The very high temperatures that occur during the process alter not only geometry but also colors. This is taken into account after the test prints were analyised.

The hypsometric map  was created at the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute (SAI) in cooperation with the Department of Cartography and Geoinformatics Faculty of Geography Moscow State University; the color scheme was designed by J. Brekhovskikh (Space Research Institute)

We are looking forward to seeing the final version of these wonderful pieces of cartographic art and planetary science.

The online virtual globe version is now available from the Virtual Globes Museum of Eötvös University, Hungary.


Zh. F. Rodionova , J. A. Brekhovskikh [Родионова Ж.Ф., Бреховских Ю.А]  (2013) Hypsometric Globe of Mars – 3D Model of the Planet (#610) . ICC 2013, Dresden.

Ilyukhina J.A., Rodionova Zh.F. (2004) Gipsometricheskaya karta Marsa. 1:26 000 000. Moscow, Nauka.

Новая карта рельефа Марса

Hypsometric globe of Mars 2013

The test version of the 21-cm-diameter thermoplastic globe. 68 copies have been produced in 2012.

Hypsometric globe of Mars - originals

The originals that were molded onto the spheres.

Report of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography meeting at ICC2013 Dresden

September 4, 2013

ICC2013 ICA Commission of Planetary Cartography meeting

Meeting: August 28 2013

Chair: H. Hargitai

In the meeting we have outlined what was done and what remained a future plan from the projects defined in the terms of reference (2011).

(1) “Update of the Multilingual Maps of Terrestrial Planets and their Moons series”

This project is being realized in the form of a children’s edition of 6 selected bodies (Venus, Moon, Mars, Io, Europa, Titan). These are going to be the world’s first planetary maps designed for children; cartographic design and artwork is made by six graphic artists (children’s books illustrators) in six diferent visual approaches and techniques. The target age of maps is 7-9 years (lower elementary school), based on teacher’s observations according to which lower elementary school pupils are very much interested in planetary science whereas upper elementary school pupils, due to the nature of how sciece classes are taught, lose their interest.

The maps will be multilingual editions (translated to major EU languages) available online. Nonprofite project with funds from Europlanet / Paris Observatory ends in November. It is a question how to continue. Some options: commercial publishing, website / accompanying Booklet  (for 9-12 yrs) / apps? / collector cards / educational materials based on the maps / book series? / competition. Marita Waehlisch is planned to be a reviewer of the maps.

(2) “Participation in Specialized Planetary Cartography GIS projects“. Irina Karachevtseva is the coordinator of this task. SHe informed the gourp about the developments of Phobos GIS at MIIGAiK’s MexLab. Some links to the resultsPhobos GISPhobos Topographic Map (MexLab 2012)

MexLab also continues to organize Summer School events which is important in attracting future planetary cartographers. 

(3) “Planetary Nomenclature / Gazetteer supplements”

A paper is in print from a collaboration of chinese and russian colleagues: “Chinese and Russian language equivalents of the IAU Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature: an overview of planetary toponym localization methods”, in  The Cartographic Journal.

It has been decided and is under preparation that the commission maintain a composite gazetteer of planetary toponyms with English-Russian-Chinese names, name origins etc. For this we have asked the Chinese colleagues to provide the Chinese list of lunar placenames and in the future to create the Chinese pronunciation audio files for the existing audio guide to planetary toponyms.

The commission is planning to include the toponym research and database of Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores on classical Martian names.

(4) “Foundation of a new, bi-annual international children‘s and student‘s drawing competition, with special focus on planetary cartography”.

This task was not completed. Instead, a childrens map series is being made that can serve as a basis, or starting point for various competitions – drawing competition “Now you visualize”, “Make stories using the narratives/characters on the map” etc. We are looking for coordinators.

(5) “Development of a curriculum for geography or physics teachers at high school level, in which they can use planetary cartographic products”

No activity was made. This remiains a future plan.

(6) “Participation in the making of a textbook on Extraterrestrial Geography at high school and university level, and creation of cartographic products for this available online”

See previous project for details.

(7) “Creation of a new, updated website for the commission with various resources for the planetary cartographer community worldwide, including the International Planetary Cartography Database which is a documentation, bibliography and analysis of the international planetary cartography products”

Commission website/blog is made and is being regularly updated at (You are here)

(8) “Making official contacts with the WG of Extraterrestrial Mapping at ISPRS, with IAU Commission on Solar System Nomenclature, with planetary mapping groups in Germany (DLR), the USA (NASA/USGS), China and Japan”

We are active is making connections with the Chinese lunar mapping community.

Further comments

It was discussed how we can make the commission more visible for the cartographic community. We have discussed, although not decided on the possibility of sumbitting manuscripts to the sessions of other commissions in the next conference. It was partly done at ICC2013 as several papers were presented on the Globes session, but it may be useful if we would prepare general presentations tailored for specific commissions, i.e. a paper about the problems of planetary mountain mapping for the mountain cartography commission’s session etc.

It may be useful to select individual coordinators for each sub-project who will be responsible for the specific task and would report on it in the next meeting.

It was suggested that we create short YouTube videos with links to maps and commission website at the end, about various surface features or topics in planetary cartography. This could make planetary cartography more attractive to the YouTube generation.


The conference had 20 papers presented, 4 posters, 16 oral presentations in the field of planetary cartography.

There is no decision on next year’s meeting but the possibilities are one of the joint meetings of commissions, either in Krakow or Budapest.

Comments, ideas, projects from You? You can comment directly here (see comment box below) or send it to hhargitai @

Henrik Hargitai


China’s “Google Moon” is online

August 29, 2013

Chinese planetary cartographer Lingli Mu has presented today the new results from Chang’E-2 lunar spacecraft at the ICC2013 conference in Dresden.

This is a major step making lunar research and mapping more international than ever. The global photomosaic and color-coded elevation maps are now available in a digital, Google Earth-like interface. The results were already published during the last few years as Atlases (a Photomosaic and a Topographic Atlas) and Globes. All these products display lunar names in both Latin and Chinese versions. Work of the Chinese Gazetteer of Lunar Placenames are coordinated by the National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC).


Lingli Mu presenting Chinese results at ICC2013

Lingli Mu presents the Chinese Lunar maps

The Moon and its placenames as you have never seen before


Chang'E Topographic Map


Chang’E digital topographic map


More information and access to data

Paper: “A New Mapping Method for the Moon With the Chang’E-1 Data” by Lingli Mu, Chunlai Li , Jianjun Liu, Xin Ren, and Xiaoduan Zou.

Interactive map: The Chang’E-2 digital lunar map is available online freely at

Images (via “Lunar Exploration Data Release System”): Original, high resolution data and imagery from Chang’E-1 and Chang’E-2, including global 50-m resolution image and DEM mosaic; and derived products (e.g., full resolution maps) are available at Note, that according to the Chinese regulations, only some processed data are open to the public, others have to be requested.


ICC 2013: Planetary programs

July 29, 2013

Presentations and meetings related to planetary cartography at the 26th International Cartographic Conference held in Dresden in August 2013:

Friday August 23 

09.00 – 16.00 Sharing knowledge – Joint ICA Symposium

Lecture Hall of the TU Dresden, 1st floor, room nr 101Bergstraße 64

11:45 A.M. – 12:25 A.M. Session 2: Planetary Cartography. Chairperson: Hargitai H.

Archiving and Public Dissemination of Planetary Geologic and Geomorphologic Maps Andrea Naß, Stephan van Gasselt, Germany

Planetary Geologic Mapping: Initial Thoughts on an Ontology Framework - Stephan van Gasselt, Andrea Naß, Germany

Tuesday August 27 2013

International Congress Center Dresden

16:30 – 17:45 S6-I | Mixed Session.

6I.4 GIS mapping and analysis for landing sites of Soviet spacecraft on the Moon (#715) - M. Baskakova (MIIGAiK Extraterrestrial laboratory (MExLAb) Moscow state University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK), Moscow) et al.

Wednesday August 28 2013

International Congress Center Dresden
8:30-09:15: Plenary keynote:

ICA Commissions at a glance. Commission on Planetary Cartography

9:15 – 10:30: Session 7-J:

Business Meeting of the Commission on Planetary Cartography

11:00-12:15: Session 8-F Planetary Mapping

Chair: Lazarev, Evgeniy

8F.1 Сartographical aspects of Martian moons modelling  (#1099) - E. Grishakina et al. Speaker: E. Lazarev (Lomonosov Moscow State University Geographical, Sternberg State Astronomical Institute Lunar and Planetary Research, Moscow)

8F.2 On the Concept and Integration of Geologic Time in Planetary Mapping (#104). - S. van Gasselt (Freie Universitaet Berlin Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing, Berlin) and A. Nass.

8F.3 A Framework for Planetary Geologic Mapping  (#1226) - A. Nass (German Aerospace Center (DLR) Inst. for Planetary Research, Dept. of Planetary Geology, Berlin, and University of Potsdam Inst. of Geography, Geoinformation Science Research Group, Potsdam) and S. van Gasselt

8F.4 Exploring Martian Climatologic Data using Geovisualization : MARSIG, a Spatiotemporal Information System for Planetary Science (#1258).  - P. – A. Davoine et al. (Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble, Saint-Martin d’Hères, France)

12:15-14:00 Poster session P2, Hall 1 Terrace level

P2-75  Proposed Additions to the Cartographic Database of Mars.. Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores (OPS-Alaska and Tonga International Academy)

16:30 – 17:45: S10-E – Globes

10E2 Hypsometric Globe of Mars – 3D Model of the Planet (#610) - Z. Rodionova (Sternberg State Astronomical Institute Lunar and Planetary Investigation, Moscow) and J. Brekhovskikh

10E.4 Lunar and planetary globes in the holdings of the Austrian National Library’s Globe Museum. (#212) - J. Mokre (Austrian National Library Map Department and Globe Museum, Vienna)

16:30 – 17:45: S10-G | Mixed Session

10G.4 Mapping of the Landing Areas of the Soviet Lunar Rovers Lunokhod-1, -2 (#1090). - Evgeniia Gusakova (Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK), MIIGAiK Extraterrestrial Laboratory (MExLab) – Moscow) et al.

Thursday, August 29 2013

International Congress Center Dresden
9:15 – 10:30: S11-G | Planetary Mapping. Chair: Karachevtseva, Irina

Wondrak S and L. Hurni: Interactive Visualization of Planet Movements for Highschool Education  Wondrak S and L. Hurni: Interactive Visualization of Planet Movements for Highschool Education

11G.1Interactive Visualization of Planet Movements for Highschool Education (#684) - S. Wondrak and L. Hurni (ETH Zürich Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, Zürich, Switzerland)

Gede Mátyás Gede Mátyás

11G.2 “Blind Mouse” on Mars and Moon – a Map Game for Disseminating Planetary Topographic Knowledge (invited talk) (#288) - M. Gede (Eötvös Loránd University Department of Cartography and Geoinformatics, Budapest) et al.

Lingli Mu L. Mu et al.: A New Mapping Method for the Moon With the Chang’E-1 Data

11G.3 A New Mapping Method for the Moon With the Chang’E-1 Data (#1456) - L. Mu et al. (National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing)

Full presentation can be viewed here: Mu Lingli: A New Mapping Method for the Moon With the Chang’E Data A New Mapping Method for the Moon With the Chang’E Data

11:00 – 12:15: S12-G | Mixed Session

Irina Karachevtseva

2G.4 GIS-mapping of Phobos based on new results of image processing of Mars Express data (#1075) - I. Karachevtseva et al. Speaker: S. Afanasyeva (State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK) Extraterrestrial Laboratory (MExLAb), Moscow).

12:15 – 12:45 P3 | Poster Session

Hargitai H et al.:  Geobrowsers vs. Cartographic Artworks: Virtual Planetary Globes Designed for K–12 Education (1252)

P3.33 Geobrowsers vs. Cartographic Artworks: Virtual Planetary Globes Designed for K–12 Education (1252) - H. Hargitai et al.

Kersten E et al.  Cartographic Mapping of the Icy Satellites using Cassini ISS images. (#632)



P3.35 Cartographic Mapping of the Icy Satellites using Cassini ISS images. (#632) - E. Kersten et al.  #706

P3.36 Main Characteristics of Coordinate and Cartographic Support of Luna-Glob Mission (#706) - Anatoliy Zubarev et al.

14:45 – 16:00: S13-G – Mixed Session

13G.1 Mapping Of Candidate Russian Landing Sites On The Moon (#1148) - A. Kokhanov (1Moscow State University aof Geodesy and Cartography MIIGAIK Extraterrestrial laboratory (MExLab), Moscow) et al.


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