IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th August, 2023 Geography

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Recent announcement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the naming of the Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander's touchdown point.


  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the naming of the lunar landing site where Chandrayaan-3 touched down.
  • The Prime Minister revealed this decision during a visit to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) headquarters in Bengaluru.
  • The naming of lunar sites after successful missions is a global tradition.

Chandrayaan-2's Landing Site: "Tiranga"

  • Discussion over naming Chandrayaan-2's crash site occurred after its unsuccessful landing attempt in 2019.
  • Decision to name it "Tiranga" was taken in anticipation of future success in soft-landing attempts.

Authority Over Naming Lunar Sites

  • The Moon, as per the 1966 Outer Space Treaty, is not subject to national appropriation or sovereignty claims.
  • International cooperation and common principles govern space exploration.
  • Naming lunar sites does not contradict this treaty, but the treaty itself does not address the issue of naming.

The Role of the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  • The IAU is responsible for planetary and satellite nomenclature.
  • Its decisions establish conventions for understanding astronomical objects and processes.
  • The IAU has 92 member countries, including India.

Naming Lunar Landing Sites: The Process

  • Informal naming often occurs first, especially for mission sites with limited available information.
  • High-quality images from spacecraft contribute to improved understanding of lunar features.
  • Major far-side craters were named after scientists and engineers.
  • These informal names are submitted to the IAU for approval.

IAU's Process for Naming Planetary Objects

  • IAU's Working Groups handle the process of naming planetary features.
  • Themes for naming features are chosen when initial images of surfaces are obtained.
  • Higher resolution images lead to additional name proposals by investigators.
  • Suggestions can be submitted to a Task Group, but approval is not guaranteed.
  • Approved names become official IAU nomenclature and are entered into the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

IAU's Naming Norms for Planetary Objects

  • Names should be simple, clear, unambiguous, and not duplicate existing names.
  • Political, military, or religiously significant names are not allowed.
  • Commemoration of persons on planetary bodies requires special circumstances and a three-year posthumous period.

Examples of Named Lunar Features

  • Several major far-side craters received names from scientists and engineers.
  • Craters named informally during Apollo missions were later officially recognized by the IAU.
  • Significant lunar sites carry both informal and official names.


Q) Consider the following statements:

  1. According to the 1966 Outer Space Treaty, lunar sites cannot be named without the approval of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
  2. Names approved by IAU become official IAU nomenclature and are entered into the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

Select the correct statements using the codes below:

(a)    1 only

(b)    2 only

(c)     Both 1 and 2

(d)    Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B