IAU names landing site of Chinese Chang'e-4 probe on far side of the moon

February 19, 2019, International Astronomical Union
Five sites on the far side of the Moon now have official names, including Chang'e-4's landing site. The names have significance in Chinese culture, reflecting the background of the probe's team. Credit: CNSA

The International Astronomical Union Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved the name Statio Tianhe for the landing site where the Chinese spacecraft Chang'e-4 touched down on 3 January this year, in the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon. The name Tianhe originates from the ancient Chinese name for the Milky Way, which was the sky river that separated Niulang and Zhinyu in the folk tale "The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl".

Four other names for features near the landing site have also been approved. In keeping with the theme of the above-mentioned folk tale, three small craters that form a triangle around the landing site have been named Zhinyu, Hegu, and Tianjin, which correspond to characters in the tale. They are also names of ancient Chinese constellations from the time of the Han dynasty. The fifth approved name is Mons Tai, assigned to the central peak of the Von Kármán (lunar_crater) ), in which the landing occurred. Mons Tai is named for Mount Tai, a mountain in Shandong, China, and is about 46 km to the northwest of the Chang'e-4 .

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