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Global View of Venus

The planet Venus is nearly the same size as its neighbor Earth, although very different in atmospheric history and some aspects of its geology. During the last 30 years Venus has been mapped by a series of survey missions including Venera, Pioneer, and Magellan. The most detailed information came from the Magellan spacecraft between Sept. 1990 and Oct. 12, 1994, when radio contact was finally lost during a controlled descent into Venus' thick, sulfur- and CO2-laden atmosphere. During its four-year survey, Magellan returned high-resolution images of 98% of the surface using synthetic aperature radar, altimetry, thermal emissions, and gravity maps.  The surface topography of Venus revealed by radar imaging includes Aphrodite Terra, a complex highland region in the equitorial zone containing the mountain Atla Regio, and the northern Ishtar Terra highlands, Venus's highest mountain range. Over 900 impact craters  from 2  to 260 km in diameter have also been mapped on the surface of Venus. Among the largest are the craters Mead and Cleopatra.

[Fig.1: Composite radar image of the globe of Venus gathered by Magellan. The complex, braided terrain at mid latitudes includes Aphrodite Terra (NASA/JPL Magellan).]

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