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Pluto-Charon: new toponym namebanks

November 17, 2015


Informal feature names of Pluto and Charon, from the first research article on the New Horizons results. On Pluto, spacecrafts are commemorated, while on Charon, Star Wars and Star Trek characters populate the map.

Chinese names on the Moon

November 16, 2015

The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved names for three craters and the Chang’e 3 landing site on the Moon. Chang’e 3 landed on the Moon on 14 December 2013.

The Chang’e 3 landing site is named “Guang Han Gong”, after the Moon palace where Chang-E and Yutu lived in Chinese mythology.

Three craters nearby were named Zi Wei, Tai Wei, Tian Shi, after the “three enclosures in Chinese ancient star map”.

According to the rules of IAU, craters on the Moon can be named after the followings: “Deceased scientists and polar explorers who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their field. Deceased Russian cosmonauts are commemorated by craters in and around Mare Moscoviense. Deceased American astronauts are commemorated by craters in and around the crater Apollo. Appropriate locations will be provided in the future for other space-faring nations should they also suffer fatalities. First names are used for small craters of special interest” (Source).

We note that no Russian “landing site name” has been approved on the Moon but 12 small “Lunokhod-1 landing site features” were named after Russian common names, in 2012. Lunokhod 1 landed on the Moon on November 17, 1970.

Sources of quotations: Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

Happy Halloween

October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween

The Traverse of The Martian (book/movie): Map

September 24, 2015

Here is our map of the area covered by Andy Weir’s 2011 novel, The Martian. The movie will be released on Oct 2, 2015. Take the map with you and follow the story cartographically.

If you click on the link below this map, You’ll get fictional astronaut Mark Watney’s traverse on the real Martian terrain.


Copyright notice: this map is in the public domain and is derived from public domain datasets.


Click here → for the map that shows Mark Watney’s traverse

Topography: MOLA gridded data
Geology: Tanaka, K.L., Skinner, J.A., Jr., Dohm, J.M., Irwin, R.P., III, Kolb, E.J., Fortezzo, C.M., Platz, T., Michael, G.G., and Hare, T.M., 2014, Geologic map of Mars: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3292, scale 1:20,000,000, pamphlet 43 p.,
Valleys: Hynek Valley Network Database 

Pluto poster, 9/18/2015

September 18, 2015


The Final Frontier (pdf)

How to make a planetary map – the Buzz Feed style

September 16, 2015

As part of our outreach activities, and in the framework of Map Year 2015-16, we have created a BuzzFeed article on planetary mapping. You can read it here.


Map of Mars, in various projections. Illustration from the outreach article.

Lunar and Planetary Cartography in Russia (New Book)

September 11, 2015


The detailed history of planetary cartography in Russia (and the Soviet Union) is finally published in English. The book chapters cover maps, atlases and globes of the Moon, Mars, Phobos, Deimos and Venus, up to the latest planetary cartographic products, and separate chapters deal with the first maps of the lunar far side, and lunar toponymy.

From Springer: “This book is the first to document in depth the history of lunar and planetary cartography in Russia. The first map of the far side of the Moon was made with the participation of Lomonosov Moscow University (Sternberg Astronomical Institute, MSU) in 1960. The developed mapping technologies were then used in preparing the “Complete Map of the Moon” in 1967 as well as other maps and globes.”

Vladislav Shevchenko, Zhanna Rodionova, Gregory Michael (2015): Lunar and Planetary Cartography in Russia. Springer. 


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