Can I Pay a Fee and Officially Name a Crater or Other Type of Surface Feature on Mars and Other Solar System Objects?Saturday, March 8, 2014
Official names for planetary surface features are not for sale. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature provides a unique system of official names for planetary surface features, natural satellites, dwarf planets, and planetary rings for the benefit of the international science community, educators, and the general public. A single system of official names is critical for effective scientific communication. The IAU first became involved with planet and satellite nomenclature in 1919 to standardize the multiple, confusing systems of nomenclature for the Moon that were then in use. Since that time, the IAU has provided the single, reliable, official catalog of surface feature names, thus enabling successful international communication. The IAU names surface features only when they have special scientific interest and the names are needed for communication; features that do not need to be named now are left to be named by future generations.
Names purchased through a commercial enterprise (1) have no formal or official status, (2) will not be added to the official database or maps, and (3) carry the potential to create confusion within the broader science community and the public. The IAU dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of selling names. Please visit the Mars portion of the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for the official list of named features on Mars.