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Report of the IAU Working Group

Detailed Description

This report continues the practice where the IAU Working Group on Cartographic Coordinates and Rotational Elements revises recommendations regarding those topics for the planets, satellites, minor planets, and comets approximately every 3 years. The Working Group has now become a “functional working group” of the IAU, and its membership is open to anyone interested in participating. We describe the procedure for submitting questions about the recommendations given here or the application of these recommendations for creating a new or updated coordinate system for a given body. Regarding body orientation, the following bodies have been updated: Mercury, based on MESSENGER results; Mars, along with a refined longitude definition; Phobos; Deimos; (1) Ceres; (52) Europa; (243) Ida; (2867) Šteins; Neptune; (134340) Pluto and its satellite Charon; comets 9P/Tempel 1, 19P/Borrelly, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, and 103P/Hartley 2, noting that such information is valid only between specific epochs. The special challenges related to mapping 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko are also discussed. Approximate expressions for the Earth have been removed in order to avoid confusion, and the low precision series expression for the Moon’s orientation has been removed. The previously online only recommended orientation model for (4) Vesta is repeated with an explanation of how it was updated. Regarding body shape, text has been included to explain the expected uses of such information, and the relevance of the cited uncertainty information. The size of the Sun has been updated, and notation added that the size and the ellipsoidal axes for the Earth and Jupiter have been recommended by an IAU Resolution. The distinction of a reference radius for a body (here, the Moon and Titan) is made between cartographic uses, and for orthoprojection and geophysical uses. The recommended radius for Mercury has been updated based on MESSENGER results. The recommended radius for Titan is returned to its previous value. Size information has been updated for 13 other Saturnian satellites and added for Aegaeon. The sizes of Pluto and Charon have been updated. Size information has been updated for (1) Ceres and given for (16) Psyche and (52) Europa. The size of (25143) Itokawa has been corrected. In addition, the discussion of terminology for the poles (hemispheres) of small bodies has been modified and a discussion on cardinal directions added. Although they continue to be used for planets and their satellites, it is assumed that the planetographic and planetocentric coordinate system definitions do not apply to small bodies. However, planetocentric and planetodetic latitudes and longitudes may be used on such bodies, following the right-hand rule. We repeat our previous recommendations that planning and efforts be made to make controlled cartographic products; newly recommend that common formulations should be used for orientation and size; continue to recommend that a community consensus be developed for the orientation models of Jupiter and Saturn; newly recommend that historical summaries of the coordinate systems for given bodies should be developed, and point out that for planets and satellites planetographic systems have generally been historically preferred over planetocentric systems, and that in cases when planetographic coordinates have been widely used in the past, there is no obvious advantage to switching to the use of planetocentric coordinates. The Working Group also requests community input on the question submitting process, posting of updates to the Working Group website, and on whether recommendations should be made regarding exoplanet coordinate systems.


Public Domain.