Fine-scale Venusian topography from Magellan stereo data

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Abstract

Of all the solar system bodies, Venus is the most like Earth in terms of average surface age, size, distance from the Sun, and diversity of volcanic and deformational features. Despite these similarities, Venus does not currently have plate tectonics and is uninhabitable, and it is not known whether these two conditions are related. As technology advances and such missions as NASA's Kepler begin to detect Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone around other stars, understanding the evolution of Venus will be critical in assessing the odds that “Earth-sized” equates to “Earth-like.” Unfortunately, there has not been a geology-oriented spacecraft mission to Venus since the Magellan mission (1989–1994), and no missions are currently planned.

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