The Plains Of Titan
With so many detailed maps of so many planets and moons being produced by interplanetary probes, task groups in the International Astronomy Union responsible for assigning names to features have strip-mined myths, Greek and Roman literature, Shakespeare's plays, lists of distinguished artists and scientists, and so on, and so forth (complete list of sources here). Now, the IAU's Working Group for Planetary Nomenclature has just announced its approval of the use of the term planitia for the dark plains Cassini has mapped on Titan, with 'the theme "Names of planets from the Dune series of science fiction novels by American Author Frank Herbert (1920 - 1986)."'
And why not? After all, those dark plains are covered in strings of giant dunes, albeit ones composed of grains of frozen hydrocarbons rather than sand. A pity this wasn't done a little earlier, though - I could have dropped in a neat bit of science-fictional recursion into Gardens of the Sun. First to be named is Chusuk Planitia, located at 5.0S, 23.5W - it's at the righthand edge of this map of Titan, just below the equator, or close to the centre of the disc of Titan in the photo at the top.
Actually, Herbert isn't the first author to be honoured in this way. Titan also features Xanadu and Shangri-la.
(Via Universe Today)