VENUS: The big picture
Global views from above the atmosphere:
Venus is covered with clouds made of sulfuric acid. These clouds permanently
shroud Venus' solid surface. Cloud patterns become distinctive at ultraviolet
wavelengths; most prominent is a horizontal "Y"-shaped cloud feature near
the equator. Polar regions are bright, possibly due to a haze of
particles that lie above the main clouds. Dark regions are locations
near the cloud tops where the level of
sulfur dioxide is greatest. Cloud patterns travel east to west along
with the Venus' prevailing winds, making a complete circuit around the
planet in four days.
Global views of the surface:
Views of the surface:
3-D views of the surface, constructed from Magellan radar imaging data:
mass = 0.815 MEarth
radius = 6052 km = 0.95 REarth
vesc = 10.4 km/sec (as compared to 11.2 km/sec for Earth)
rotation period = -243.0 days (backwards)
length of "day" = 116.75 days
axial tilt = 177.36 degrees (i.e., upside down) (Earth's = 23.45 degrees)n
sidereal orbital period = 224.701 days = 0.615 Earth years
tropical period (seasons) = 224.695 days = 0.615 Earth years
distance from Sun = 0.723 AU
orbital eccentricity = 0.007 (vs. 0.017 for Earth)
density = 5.25 gm/cc (5.52 gm/cc for Earth)
atmospheric surface pressure: 92 bar (1 bar on Earth)
atmospheric contents: 96.5% CO2, 3.5% N2
average surface temperature: 737 K (464 C = 867 F)
diurnal temperature range: ~0 (no temperature changes)
largest crater: 275 km (Mead;
larger than largest on Earth; smaller than large lunar craters)
smallest craters: few smaller than 10 km! (atmosphere likely protects surface
from asteroids smaller than ~1 km)
"continents": Aphrodite (size of Africa), Ishtar (size of Australia)
highest mountain: Maxwell Montes (11 km)
Regio: (from the southwest) a 3 kilometer (1.86 mile) high volcano.
The impact crater Cunitz, named for the astronomer and mathematician Maria
Cunitz, is visible in the center of the image. The crater is 48.5 kilometers
(30 miles) in diameter. vertical scale is exaggerated by a
factor of 22.5.
Regio: (from the northeast) Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers
across the fractured plains shown in the foreground to the base of Gula
Mons. The viewpoint is to the southwest with Gula Mons appearing at the
left just below the horizon. Gula Mons, a 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) high
volcano, is located at approximately 22 degrees north latitude, 359 degrees
east longitude. Sif Mons, a volcano with a diameter of 300 kilometers (180
miles) and a height of 2 kilometers (l.2 miles), appears to the right of
Gula Mons. The distance between Sif Mons and Gula Mons is approximately
730 kilometers (453 miles). vertical scale is exaggerated by a factor of
Mons: vertical scale is close to normal.
Mons: Sif Mons, a volcano with a diameter of 500 kilometers and a height
of 3 kilometers, appears in the upper half of the image. Sif Mons
has lava flows that extend 500 km in length.
Idem-Kuva: The corona has a diameter of 97 kilometers (60 miles). The
proposed name for the corona is Idem-Kuva, a Finno-Ugraic harvest spirit.
Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers across the fractured plains
shown in the background.
Regio: The view is to the northeast at the center of an area containing
seven circular dome-like hills. The average diameter of the hills is 25
kilometers (15 miles) with maximum heights of 750 meters (2,475 feet).
Three of the hills are visible in the center of the image. Fractures on
the surrounding plains are both older and younger than the domes.
Mons: Maat Mons is an 8-kilometer (5 mile) high volcano.
of Grimke crater
domes: largest is 25 km across, 2 km high. Very steep edges.
Appear to be the product of very thick, viscous lava.
channels, Lo Shen Valles:
crater: a rifted crater
chain: appear to be the result of subsurface volcanic activity:
raised interiors, depressed surrounding rings, form mountain chains.
Space Science Data Center Venus Home Page (links to past and
future Venus missions and much more)