Exploring the Planets

Craters on Venus

Due to the very high surface temperature and atmospheric pressure, meteorite impact craters on Venus differ in some ways from those found on other planets and moons.

Clusters of Impact Craters

Because Venus's atmosphere is so dense, small meteorites break up as they fall, creating clusters of overlapping craters. The dark terrain around these craters is covered by a layer of fine material pulverized by the meteorite impact.

Width of image area: 95 km (59 mi.)

Clusters of Impact Craters on Venus

Flows Around Craters

Perhaps because of the high surface temperature, meteorite impacts cause large amounts of rock to melt and flow like lava. If this molten material spills from the crater, it can form flows like those shown here around the crater Markham.

Width of image area: 515 km (320 mi.)

Crater Markham on Venus

Impact Deposits

The thick atmosphere keeps material thrown aloft by meteorite impacts from traveling far. Because of this, craters on Venus lack the long "rays" of material and chains of secondary craters found around many lunar craters. But young craters, such as this one, are surrounded by parabola-shaped deposits of fine soil that was ejected and carried to the west (left) by winds high in the atmosphere. Over time the gentle surface winds erase these features.

Width of image area: 630 km (390 mi.)

Venus' Adivar Crater