Decoding Venus' Continents: Differentiating Tesserae using Magellan Data

Jennifer Whitten, Professor, Tulane University

The climate of Venus was likely much different in the past. While most of Venus is geologically young and does not preserve evidence of these ancient climate conditions, the oldest materials, known as tesserae, might. Tesserae cover ~7% of the surface of Venus and may have formed during a period of time with vastly different climate conditions than observed today. These materials appear radar bright in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data owing to their high degree of deformation. The morphology and radiophysical properties of tesserae vary across the planet. Morphologic analyses of tesserae textures suggest significant variations within and across tesserae. Analysis of Magellan emissivity data indicate that there may be four major tesserae compositions, though more may exist.  

We analyze SAR data from the Magellan mission in detail to determine what they reveal about the tesserae. Specifically, we measure variations in backscatter coefficient, a measure of roughness and composition, to characterize differences in tesserae and determine whether these differences match emissivity and morphology observations.

Host: Bill McKinnon

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