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Dr. Anomaly

"Neat" Pictures

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False-color image reconstructed from the radar mapping data from the Magellan mission to Venus.  There's also substantial vertical exaggeration.  The brightness in the image does indicate "brightness" in the radar data, which largely corresponds to scale of roughness of the surface; a surface which is broken up into pieces whose size is comparable to the wavelength of the radar waves (~10 cm iirc) will be bright, because that's very effective at reflecting radio waves of that wavelength.  The radar map was constructed using "side-looking" radar, that is, the transmitted beam was not pointed straight down at the planet, but rather at the "edge" of the planet as seen from orbit.  This means also that reverse slopes (hillsides sloped away from the direction to the spacecraft) will always look dark, while slopes whose front is towards the spacecraft look bright.

 

I forget the name of the peak in left background.  It is a volcano.  In fact, other than the impact craters and some features which are clearly windblown or wind-eroded stuff, more or less all of Venus's surface features are volcanic landforms of various sorts.

 

The thing taking up much of the middle of the image is an impact crater.  The bright ring is the raised crater rim, surrounded by the broken rocks of the ejecta blanket; the central peak is also quite bright.  The rest of the crater floor is pulverized rock that has settled into a smooth and therefore dark plain in this image.

 

The snaky bright lines running all over are grabens (valleys formed by the surface stretching, so blocks drop down) or are old lava flow channels whose tops are the chunky irregular cooled surface lava.

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