Chang’e-4 lander as observed by Yutu-2 rover.

Five sites on the Moon’s farside now have official names, including the landing site of China’s Chang’e-4 mission.

The names have significance in Chinese culture, reflecting the background of the probe’s team.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) 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 January 3 this year – the first-ever landing on the farside 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”.

Yutu-2 rover after rolling off Chang’e-4 lander.

Other features named

In an IAU statement, four other names for features near the landing site have also been approved.

In keeping with the theme of the 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.

Credit: CNSA 

The fifth approved name is Mons Tai, assigned to the central peak of the crater Von Kármán, in which the landing occurred. Mons Tai is named for Mount Tai, a mountain in Shandong, China, and is nearly 30 miles (46 kilometers) to the northwest of the Chang’e-4 landing site.

The central peak, Mons Tai, in the lunar crater measures 1,565 meters in height from its base.

Image of Mons Tai, a hill near “Statio Tianhe”, the landing site of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe.
Credit: CNSA

Zhinyu crater
Credit: CNSA

Hegu crater
Credit: CNSA

Tianjin crater
Credit: CNSA


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