News of the WeekPLANETOLOGY

Craters Suggest How Venus Lost Her Youth

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Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 889
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.889

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Most researchers have believed that volcanic activity on Venus ended abruptly long ago, but a new analysis of Magellan radar images suggests that many venusian craters have in fact been altered by later lava flows, reopening the possibility that Venus was active after the supposed shutdown. In work presented at the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, two planetary geologists used pairs of images of 70 craters to create three-dimensional stereo images, allowing them to measure the relative heights of each crater's rim, floor, and surrounding terrain; the 3D perspective showed lava not only filling crater interiors but also flooding around seemingly pristine craters.