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Venus: Cleopatra Crater

The double-ringed crater Cleopatra is located in Ishtar Terra, the highest moutain range on Venus, at coordinates 65.90 N and 7.00 E. Measuring 105 km in diameter, this prominent and somewhat enigmatic feature is named after the famous Egyptian queen of the late 1st century BC. Based on initial views from the Venera 15 and 16 orbiters, Cleopatra was once considered to be a volcanic caldera. Higher resolution radar imagery from Magellan, however, has shown it to be a peak-ring impact crater with inner and outer basins, and a series of rough ejecta deposits.

This view from Magellan shows the central floor (A) region appearing dark, due to its covering of fine dust which reflects little radar. Beyond the inner ring of the crater (C), a dark blanket of ejecta (E)  represents a relatively smooth layer spread over a lighter, radar-bright outlying zone (G) characterized by rough terrain. This is crossed at rop right by a lava-like flow (F) of surface materials melted by the meteor impact which caused the crater, sometime after 300 million years ago.

[Fig.1: Radar image of Cleopatra Crater on Venus (NASA/JPL Magellan).]

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