How Big is Maxwell Montes

We take a closer look at the highest peaks on Venus!

Maxwell Montes is a giant mountain range located on Ishtar Terra, which is the most northern of the two major highlands on Venus. It is a part of the Lakshmi Planum, a large plain that likely resulted from smooth lava flows on the surface of the planet. Maxwell Montes rises to an elevation of 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) at the highest point and is 797 kilometres (495 miles) in diameter. It has very steep slopes, particularly on the chain’s western side, likely a result of how the lava flowed in the past.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Its incredibly high surface temperature can be accounted for by its dense atmosphere, which retains almost all of the sunlight that passes through it. However, the presence of dormant volcanoes like Maxwell Montes suggests that Venus was once a volcanically active planet, and indeed these volcanoes may have been major contributors to the thick atmosphere that currently surrounds our closest neighbour. Precisely when Venus was volcanically active in its 4.7 billion year lifetime is currently a matter of debate.

How Big is Maxwell MontesCleopatra crater

This impact crater on Venus is found on the Ishtar Terra mountain range on Maxwell Montes. It stretches 100 kilometres (62 miles) in diameter and has two discernible rings inside. At first it was thought to be the remains of a volcano, but new research (and the discovery of the rings) indicate it was formed from a meteorite impact. Its dark centre is covered in a fine dust, while the outer ring is made of the ejected debris from the initial impact. It’s thought to have formed in the last few centuries.