‘Station Shiv Shakti’: Chandrayaan-3’s Landing Site

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) approved the name ‘Station Shiv Shakti’ for the landing site of Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander on the Moon. This decision follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on August 26, 2023, where he declared that the landing site would be named ‘Shiva Shakti’.

Etymology and Significance

The Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, which documents IAU-approved planetary names, defines ‘Station Shiv Shakti’ as a compound word from Indian mythology, representing the masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) duality of nature. Prime Minister Modi emphasized the significance of these names in connecting India from the Himalaya to Kanyakumari, stating that Shiva symbolizes resolution for humanity’s welfare, while Shakti provides the strength to fulfill those resolutions.

Planetary Nomenclature

Planetary nomenclature, similar to terrestrial nomenclature, is used to uniquely identify features on the surface of a planet or satellite. The Gazetteer contains detailed information about all IAU-approved names of topographic and albedo features on planets and satellites since the organization’s founding in 1919.

Chandrayaan-3 Mission

Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar exploration mission, following Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2. The mission’s primary objective was to achieve a soft landing on the Moon’s surface, which was successfully accomplished by the Vikram lander. The landing site, now officially named ‘Station Shiv Shakti’, marks a significant milestone in India’s space exploration journey.

Previous Lunar Missions and Naming

Fifteen years before Chandrayaan-3’s soft landing, India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission’s Moon Impact Probe (MIP) had impacted the lunar surface on November 14, 2008. The impact site was named ‘Jawahar Point’ or ‘Jawahar Sthal’, in honor of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

During the Chandrayaan-3 landing announcement, Prime Minister Modi also revealed that the point where Chandrayaan-2 left its footprints would be called ‘Tiranga’, meaning the Indian tricolor flag.

Important Facts for Exams

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919 and is responsible for assigning official names and designations to celestial bodies and their surface features.
  • The naming of lunar features follows a specific theme based on their location on the Moon. For example, craters on the Moon’s far side are named after scientists and explorers, while those on the near side are named after famous figures in the arts and humanities.
  • The Chandrayaan-3 mission was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and launched on July 14, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Vikram lander, named after the founder of India’s space program, Vikram Sarabhai, carried the Pragyan rover, which was designed to explore the lunar surface and conduct scientific experiments.
  • The success of Chandrayaan-3 made India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, after the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.



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