Compiled by Robert R. Herrick and Maribeth H. Price
Venus is similar to Earth in terms of size and distance from the Sun. However, a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere on Venus makes the surface extremely hot, prevents water from existing on or below the surface, and makes surface wind velocities very low. The Magellan mission was designed to provide data on the geology of Venus by collecting radar imagery at a resolution of ~100 meters, altimetry at a horizontal resolution of ~10 kilometers, and gravity data at a horizontal resolution of a few hundred kilometers. The data revealed a planet whose diversity of geologic features rivals Earth's, but whose overall appearance is markedly different. This slide set provides an overview of the contents of this valuable dataset. Unless otherwise noted, all images used in this slide set were produced by the authors using Magellan data.
Hubble Ultraviolet View of Venus
This represents the best telescopic image available of Venus. Taken in 1995 by the Hubble Space Telescope at ultraviolet wavelengths and presented here in false color, this image reveals the cloud patterns in the venusian atmosphere. No surface features are visible from space, and at optical wavelengths not even the cloud patterns are visible. Venus, as viewed from Earth, has phases because its orbit around the Sun is inside Earth's orbit. [From NSSDC, image processing by L. Esposito (University of Colorado, Boulder), and NASA.]
Galileo at Venus
A human visitor looking out the window of a spacecraft approaching Venus might see something like this image taken with the violet filter on Galileo's Solid State Imaging System and false-colored in yellow hues. In visible light Venus is a nearly featureless ball that appears yellow because of sulfuric acid cloud cover in the dense, predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere.
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