The Magellan spacecraft revolutionized our knowledge of the venusian surface through nearly four years of operation in orbit around Venus. The principle product returned by the spacecraft was an ~20-kilometer-wide radar imaging strip obtained near the periapsis of each orbit. This view shows a mosaic of 24 image strips of the Lavinia Planitia region of Venus; the subtle vertical bands are slight processing variations between strips obtained on successive orbits. The mosaic shows an area approximately 300 kilometers on each side. Bright linear to sinuous features are fractures in the venusian crust, concentrated at present in areas that were not buried by volcanic plains that covered much of the area shown. Numerous small domes (center of right margin) may be individual volcanos that were the sources for some of the volcanic plains. Relatively few impact craters are present on Venus; two are visible here (center of left margin); upper right margin and the smaller crater (left) is in a circular radar-dark zone interpreted to the consequence of the shock wave generated by the impactor passing through the dense atmosphere. The atmosphere of Venus is dense enough to completely destroy small impactors during their entry, at times leaving a shocked zone on the surface without an enclosed crater (below small crater at left).
Magellan mosaic (Press Release P-36838).