Planet Trek:

Mapping New Worlds


Part II: Concept Introduction: Features

Activity # 4 - Nomenclature

What is nomenclature?

"Nomenclature" means a system for naming things. And just like on Earth where mountains, rivers and other features are named, surface features on other worlds are also named. Since 1919 the International Astronomical Union has been responsible for the naming of these features.

How are surface features named?

A theme is usually chosen for each world as detailed images are obtained by the IAU. First, important features are given a name, then as additional features are observed through better digital imagery, names are suggested by the scientists investigating that world.

What are the "Rules" for Naming new discoveries?

From the USGS Nomenclature site, these rules include:

What are some of the themes use?

Look at the information in the tables below. Can you identify the theme used for these features on each world?

Craters on Saturn's Moon, Mimas
Craters on the Asteroid, Gaspra
Arthur
Balin
Bedivere
Elaine
Gawain
Gwynevere
Igraine
Merlin
Mordred
Morgan
Percivale
Uther
Bath
Calistoga
Carlsbad
Helwan
Krynica
Loutraki
Mandal
Rio Hondo
Saratoga
Tang-Sha
Yalta
Zohar
Craters on Uranus's Moon, Ariel
Craters on Jupiter's Moon, Europa
Agape
Ataksak
Befana
Berylune
Deive
Djadek
Domovoy
Finvara
Laica
Melusine
Rima
Yangoor
Angus
Balor
Brigid
Camulus
Cliodhna
Deirdre
Elathan
Gwydion
Llyr
Math
Pryderi
Tegid
Eruptive Centers on Jupter's Moon, Io
Rupes (scarps, cliffs) on Mercury
Loki
Masubi
Pele
Prometheus
Surt
Volund
Astrolabe
Discovery
Fram
Santa Maria
Vostok
Zeehaen

Use an encyclopedia or other reference source to find clues to help you complete the table by identifying the theme for these features:

Feature

Theme

Craters on Saturn's Moon, Mimas

-

Craters on Uranus's Moon, Ariel

-

Eruptive Centers on Jupteri's Moon, Io

-

Craters on the Asteroid, Gaspra

-

Craters on Jupiter's Moon, Europa

-

Rupes (scarps, cliffs) on Mercury

-

All feature descriptions are from the USGS Nomenclature Website. These are listed under "Section 1: Names listed by planetary system, satellite, and feature type." Each planetary system is linked here with a complete nomenclature including feature type, name, origin and latitude/longitude coordinates. When you complete this activity, you might enjoy exploring this website to see what other themes have been used in naming the surface features on the various worlds of our solar system. The USGS Planetary Categories page can provide information on the themes used in naming features on various worlds.

When you have completed this activity, you can check the ANSWER KEY.


Return Home
On to Activity 5