Geomorphic Degradations on the Surface of Venus: An Analysis of Venera 9 and Venera 10 Data

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Science  20 May 1977:
Vol. 196, Issue 4292, pp. 869-871
DOI: 10.1126/science.196.4292.869


On the basis of the physical and chemical measurements made on the surface of Venus and transmitted back to Earth by the Soviet automatic landers Venera 9 and Venera 10, a geomorphically inactive environment should be expected. An analysis of the television photographs reveals, however, that at least two processes of degradation occur. One operates on a scale of decimeters to meters and is responsible for the fracturing of a layered source rock and the subsequent downslope movement of the fragments. Mass-wasting, perhaps activated by venusian quakes or by unknown geological processes, is likely to be the agent. Another geomorphic degradation process occurs on the scale of a centimeter or less and is responsible for the rounding of edges and the pitting of rock surfaces. The agents of this process are not known, but atmospheric action, perhaps in connection with volcanic episodes, may be the cause. From a geomorphic point of view, the landscape of the Venera 9 landing site can be considered young and that of the Venera 10 landing site, mature.