Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

September 24, 1996
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Beneath Venus' Clouds
Credit: Magellan Spacecraft, Arecibo Radio Telescope, NASA

Explanation: If the thick clouds covering Venus were removed, how would the surface appear? Using an imaging radar technique, the Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the Face of Venus and produce this spectacular high resolution imageof the planet's surface. Red, in this false-color map, represent mountains, while blue represents valleys This 3-kilometer resolution map is a composite of Magellan images compiled between 1990 and 1994. Gaps were filled in by the Earth-based Arecibo Radio Telescope. The large yellow/red area in the north is Ishtar Terra featuring Maxwell Montes, the largest mountain on Venus. The large highland regions are analogous to continents on Earth. Scientists are particularly interested in exploring the geology of Venus because of its similarity to Earth.

Information: Thursday, September 26 - A Total Lunar Eclipse
Tomorrow's picture: Bright Stars and Dark Clouds

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
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