The International Astronomical Union (IAU), through its Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), is the body that approves names proposed for planetary features. The IAU also makes rules and sets policy regarding planetary nomenclature. The United States is an adherent to the IAU, and we are therefore compelled to follow its dictates in naming planetary features.
Among those rules that apply to Venus are the general rules that persons for whom features are to be named must be well known and deceased for at least three years. Names of persons prominent in any living religion or political or military figures of the 19th and 20th Centuries are disallowed. Furthermore, persons of a specific national significance are not acceptable. These rules are designed to avoid disruptive controversy that could obstruct the naming process.
In addition, the IAU makes rules regarding the kind of names that will be given to different types of features (a list of the feature types approved for Venus that can be named is provided in Table C1). On Venus, craters and volcanic calderas (paterae) are named for women of history; craters less than 20 km in diameter are given female first names from various world cultures. Other types of features are named for mythological women (Table C2). Names proposed for Venusian features must be selected from the proper category; otherwise, they are likely to be rejected. Consideration must also be given to keeping the nomenclature international in scope; that is, we must try to find and apply names from as many nationalities as possible.
Name proposals should be submitted to the USGS in Flagstaff, as the Branch of Astrogeology has been charged by the IAU with the responsibility of maintaining a record of all planetary name requests, as well as managing, updating, and distributing data from the nomenclature master files. Once a specific name has been proposed for a feature, it must be reviewed by two different committees of the IAU. The proposal is then voted upon by the WGPSN at their annual meeting. Once a name has been approved by the WGPSN, it is considered to have "provisional" status. Provisional names may be used in publication, but their provisonal status must somehow be indicated in the publication. (Provisional names on USGS maps are indicated by an asterisk.) The General Assembly of the IAU, which meets triannually, gives final approval to feature names.
Because the naming process is a lengthy one, it behooves mappers to make requests for
feature names at the earliest possible time. As base maps become available, ozalid copies
will be sent to Venus geologic mappers. Investigators will be asked to identify any unnamed
features that they would like to have named. Mappers may propose names themselves, or a
feature may be named by the nomenclature representative at USGS (see Appendix A).
Table C1.Feature types approved for use on Venus
|Colles1||Small hills or knobs|
|Corona, Coronae||Ovoid-shaped feature|
|Crater, Craters||Bowl-shaped depression; impact crater|
|Fluctus, Flucts||Flow terrain|
|Fossa, Fossae||Long, narrow, shallow depression|
|Linea, Lineae||Elongate marking|
|Patera, Paterae||Shallow crater; scalloped, complex edge|
|Planitia, Planitiae||Low plain|
|Planum, Plana||Plateau or high plain|
|Terra, Terrae||Extensive land mass|
|Tessera, Tesserae||Tile; polygonal ground|
|Tholus, Tholi||Small domical mountain or hill|
1Used only in plural
Table C2.Categories for naming features on Venus
|FEATURE||SOURCE OF NAME|
|Chasmata||Goddesses of hunt; Moon goddesses|
|Craters||Famous women; <20 km, female first names|
|Fossae||Goddesses of war|
|Lineae||Goddesses of war|
|Planum||Goddesses of prosperity|
|Rups||Goddesses of hearth and home|
|Tesserae||Goddesses of fate or fortune|
|Terrae||Goddesses of love|
|Valles||Word for Venus in various world languages|
Table of Contents
|Planetary Geologic Mapping|
|USGS Astrogeology Research Program||NASA|