Page last modified Jan 30, 2016|
The images below were produced by the Soviet Venera landers (the only spacecraft to ever land on Venus). 'Fish-eye' lenses were used by the landers to produce the widest possible view of the local landscape. As a result the horizon, where shown near the right and left sides of the images, appears circular instead of horizontal. In recent years some individuals have reprocessed the images to correct for the circular appearance of the horizon. Doing that correctly leaves a more-or-less V-shaped "hole" in the central portion of the image, where the landscape lies outside the original field of view; but most of these images have a fake filled-in region where the "hole" should be, and since any features shown in that part of the image are imaginary, I have decided to only post the originals. In the next iteration of this page (in which I will add more information about the various landers and their findings) I will post some correctly altered images, but due to the problem with the missing central region, they will only show a portion of the original images.
Based on surface and satellite imaging, the entire surface of Venus appears to be covered by basaltic lava flows. In some places the flows are relatively unweathered, in others they are broken into rocky blocks, and in others they have eroded (presumably by heat and chemical interaction with the atmosphere) to flat sheets surrounded by dirt-sized pebbles and dust. The composition of the basalts, as far as can be determined, appears to be similar to that of basalts found near the mid-ocean ridges on Earth — in other words, basalts formed from primitive magmas directly extruded onto the surface. There do not appear to be any rocks characteristic of continental surfaces such as found on the Earth, which is not surprising, as the differentiation of rocks into continental and oceanic types on the Earth is caused by hydrothermal action in the lower crust, and by (primarily water-based) weathering and erosion at the surface of the Earth; and since Venus has no water at its surface (the temperature being hundreds of degrees above the boiling point of water, even at the high pressures at the surface of Venus), such water-based interactions cannot occur on Venus.
(Credit for all images currently on page: NASA, Russian Space Agency, Planetary Photogallery)
Venera 9 and 10: October 16-25+, 1975
Above, surface image of Venus taken by Venera 9 lander on Oct 22, 1975
Below, surface image of Venus taken by Venera 10 lander, about 1200 miles away, on Oct 25, 1975
Venera 13: Mar 3+, 1982
Black and white images of Venus taken by Venera 13 lander in opposite directions in March, 1982
The lander was stationary but had cameras on both sides
Below, a color version of the top image, broken into two setions
Below, a "blowup" of the left side of the color image above, showing more detail
Below, a "blowup" of the right side of the color image above, showing more detail
Venera 14: March 5, 1982
Venera 14 landed 13 degrees south of the Venusian equator, near the eastern flank of Phoebe Regio. Its electronics survived for about an hour before being 'cooked' by the high surface temperature, during which time the lander transmitted the images below and performed an analysis of a sample of the surface rocks. (As with all Venera images these are 'fish-eye' views in which the horizon is shown as circular, instead of horizontal.) Flat basaltic rocks presumably formed by ancient lava flows dominate the landscape. Unlike the images from other Venera landing sites, no significant degradation into soil-like material is visible, so perhaps the flows which produced these basalts were more recent than those at the other sites.
X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface sample indicates that as at the other Venera landing sites, the basalts shown here have very low amounts of sodium and potassium compared to basalts formed at the surface of the Earth; such alkaline-deficient (tholeiitic) basalts are, however, commonly found at mid-ocean ridges such as the mid-Atlantic ridge.
Surface images (above and below) taken by Venera 14 lander in opposite directions