Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 21, 1998

Arachnoids on Venus
Credit: Magellan Team, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Arachnoids are large structures of unknown origin that have been found only on the surface of Venus. Arachnoids get their name from their resemblance to spider-webs. They appear as concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of fractures, and can span 200 kilometers. Radar echoes from the Magellan spacecraft that orbited Venus from 1990 to 1994 built up this image. Over 30 arachnoids have been identified on Venus, so far. The Arachnoid might be a strange relative to the volcano, but possibly different arachnoids formed by different processes.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.