Magellan: Radar Performance and Data Products

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Apr 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5003, pp. 260-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5003.260


The Magellan Venus orbiter carries only one scientific instrument: a 12.6-centimeter wavelength radar system shared among three data-taking modes. The synthetic-aperture mode images radar echoes from the Venus surface at a resolution of between 120 and 300 meters, depending on spacecraft altitude. In the altimetric mode, relative height measurement accuracies may approach 5 meters, depending on the terrain's roughness, although orbital uncertainties place a floor of about 50 meters on the absolute uncertainty. In areas of extremely rough topography, accuracy is limited by the inherent line-of-sight radar resolution of about 88 meters. The maximum elevation observed to date, corresponding to a planetary radius of 6062 kilometers, lies within Maxwell Mons. When used as a thermal emission radiometer, the system can determine surface emissivities to an absolute accuracy of about 0.02. Mosaicked and archival digital data products will be released in compact disk (CDROM) format.

Stay Connected to Science