Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 1, 2014

Venusian Channel (CTX Frame)
Venusian Channel (CTX Frame)

Credits: NASA/JPL - Magellan Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This Full Resolution Radar Mosaic obtained by the NASA - Magellan Spacecraft, shows us of an area located at approx. 49° South Latitude and 273° East Longitude, with dimensions of about 130 by 190 Km (such as of approx. 80,7 by a little less than 118 miles). Cutting across this always fascinating alien landscape, we can see an approx. 200 Km (124,2 miles) long segment of a sinuous Venusian Channel, whose width is, in average, of approximately 2 Km (about 1,22 miles). These kind of Channel-like Features are relatively common on the Volcanic Plains of Venus and, in some places, they appear to have been formed by Lava which could have Melted (or maybe "Thermally Eroded") the Ground, thus creating a path over the Plains' Surface.

Most of these Channel-like Features are approx. 1 to 3 Km (such as from 0,621 to 1,86 miles) wide. In fact, they seem to resemble to the Terrestrial Rivers - in some respects -, with Meanders, Cutoff Oxbows (---> U-shaped bend), and Abandoned Channel Segments. However, the Venusian Channels are not as tightly sinuous as the Terrestrial Rivers; in addition, most of them are partly buried by younger Lava Plains, thus making their sources difficult to identify. Furthermore, a few of them have vast Radar-Dark Plains Units associated with them, suggesting the presence, at the time of their formation, of quite large Flow Volumes.

These Channels appear to be older than other Channel types on Venus, as they are crossed by Fractures and Wrinkle Ridges, and are often buried (in part) by other Volcanic Materials. In addition, they appear to run both upslope and downslope, and this circumstance strongly suggests that the Plains were warped, eons ago, by Regional Tectonism (which, obviously, must have occurred after the Channel formation). The Resolution of the Magellan Data here is about 120 meters (393,59 feet) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Magellan Spacecraft Radio-Image Mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the n. PIA 00253), since it is just a Radio-Image of the Venusian Surface and NOT a real view of it, has been colorized, according to an educated guess carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), in what they could reasonably be its possible Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Magellan Spacecraft and, once the thick layer of Venusian Clouds and Fogs is completely overcome, looked down, towards the Surface of Venus itself), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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