BEIJING — The landing site of China’s first moon lander Chang’e-3 has been named “Guang Han Gong” or “Moon Palace”, more than two years after the spacecraft made a successful soft-landing on the moon in December 2013.
Together with three nearby impact craters, the name was approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced on Jan 5.
In Chinese mythology, Chang’e is the goddess of the moon while “Guang Han Gong” is the palace that houses Chang’e and her pet Yutu (Jade Rabbit).
The three craters were given the names Zi Wei, Tian Shi and Tai Wei, three constellations in traditional Chinese astrology, according to Liu Jizhong, director of the lunar exploration project of the SASTIND.
The lunar rover Yutu recently found a new type of basaltic rock that could shed light on lunar volcanism, according to an article published by Chinese scientists in the Nature Communications science journal last month.
A total of 22 lunar features have been given Chinese names. The first crater was named Zu Chongzhi after a famous Chinese mathematician in 1961.
Li Chunlai, a member of the naming committee for lunar features, said the coordinates of “Guang Han Gong”, with a diameter of 154 meters, are 44.12 degrees north latitude and 19.51 degrees west longitude. The crater, along with other features, is included in the area covered by lunar rover Yutu.
Rita Schulz, chair of the IAU Division FWG Planetary System Nomenclature, said landing sites on the moon can only be officially named when they are the first landing sites for the country’s spacecraft.