The Characteristics of Polygonal Impact Craters on Venus


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Abstract

Polygonal impact craters (PICs) are craters whose shape in plan view is more or less angular instead of being circular or ellipsoidal. This type of craters are present and often common on the Moon, Mercury, Mars and several asteroids and icy moons and after the careful analysis we found on Venus 131 impact craters, which show at least two straight rim segments. This survey proves that there are polygonal impact craters on Venus and they may provide a good tool to analyse the properties of the planet's surface/crust/lithosphere as well as the impact process itself. This study also collaborates our previous results, that PICs are not an anomaly among craters, but an integral part of all impact craters regardless of their size or environment. We compared the polygonal impact craters to “normalrdquo;-shaped craters by using different characteristics (diameter, altitude, geologic setting, morphologic class, floor reflectance, degradation stage, and wall terracing). It turned out that the smaller crater sizes favor the formation of straight rim segments, but otherwise these craters show similar characteristics to other craters. Our study also shows that there are regions where the straight segments of the crater rims most clearly follow the orientations of the dominant tectonic features of the area. Thus, the orientations of crater walls reflect—at least in some places—the local tectonics and zones of weakness also on Venus and could thus tell us about the directions and distributions of fractures or other zones of weakness in the crust.

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