Chandrayaan-3 landing site called ‘Shiv Shakti’: How are points on moon named?

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a significant announcement, revealing that the designated landing site of Chandrayaan-3 on the lunar surface will bear the name \’Shiv Shakti\’. Additionally, he disclosed that the location where Chandrayaan-2 experienced a crash landing in 2019 will now be referred to as \’Tiranga\’.

The designation of \’Shiv Shakti\’ holds profound significance for both the advancement of humanity and the realm of space exploration, as it marks the unprecedented achievement of successfully reaching the far side of the Moon—an accomplishment no other country has achieved before. Modi delivered this announcement during a special event held at the ISRO Command Centre in Bengaluru, where he highlighted India\’s propensity for innovative and unique approaches, stating, \”This is India, which thinks innovatively and uniquely. This is India which goes to dark zones and illuminates the world by spreading light.\”

The \’Shiv Shakti\’ location plays a pivotal role in collecting essential data required for comprehending various aspects of the Moon, such as its atmospheric composition, surface features, and environmental particulars. This vital information will be gathered through the efforts of the Vikram Lander and the Pragyan rover.

However, the process of naming points on the lunar surface raises a question: How is this achieved?

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), established in 1919, shoulders the responsibility of standardizing the nomenclature for celestial objects, as delineated on its official website. Comprising diverse task forces, including an executive committee, divisions, commissions, and working groups, the IAU comprises accomplished astronomers from across the globe.

When it comes to naming surfaces of planets or satellites, the IAU\’s approach involves selecting novel themes for naming features once the initial images of these surfaces are obtained. The proposal of names for noteworthy features typically involves collaboration between the appropriate IAU Task Group and the mission team.

Following meticulously established protocols, the IAU\’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) ultimately grants approval to proposed names.

After a successful review and vote by members of the WGPSN, the proposed names receive official status as IAU nomenclature. Subsequently, these names are sanctioned for use on maps and in publications.

In a prior instance, during 2020, a Moon crater identified by Chandrayaan-2 was bestowed with the name \’Sarabhai Crater\’, in honor of Vikram Sarabhai, the visionary pioneer behind India\’s space program. The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter captured images of this crater, revealing a depth of approximately 1.7 kilometers from its elevated rim, while the crater walls exhibited slopes ranging between 25 to 35 degrees.

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