Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is Earth’s closest planetary neighbor in our solar system. It’s one of the four inner, terrestrial (or rocky) planets. Often it called Earth’s twin because it’s similar in size and density. These are not identical twins, however – there are radical differences between the two worlds.
Venus has a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide. It’s perpetually shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of sulfuric acid that trap heat, causing a runaway greenhouse effect. It’s the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. Surface temperatures on Venus are about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius) – hot enough to melt lead. The surface is a rusty color and it’s peppered with intensely crunched mountains and thousands of large volcanoes. Scientists think it’s possible some volcanoes are still active.
Venus has crushing air pressure at its surface – more than 90 times that of Earth – similar to the pressure you’d encounter a mile below the ocean on Earth.
Another big difference from Earth – Venus rotates on its axis backward. Compared to most of the other planets in the solar system. This means that, on Venus, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
The ancient Romans could easily see seven bright objects in the sky. The Sun, the Moon, and the five brightest planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). They named the objects after their most important gods. Venus, the third brightest object after the Sun and Moon, was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It’s the only planet named after a female god.
Pritish Kumar provides more interesting facts about planet Venus, read full article:
Size and Distance
Our nearness to Venus is a matter of perspective. The planet is nearly as big around as Earth – 7,521 miles (12,104 kilometers) across, versus 7,926 miles (12,756 kilometers) for Earth. From Earth, Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after our own Moon. The ancients, therefore, gave it great importance in their cultures, even thinking it was two objects. A morning star and an evening star. That’s where the trick of perspective comes in.
Because Venus’ orbit is closer to the Sun than ours, the two of them never stray far from each other. At its nearest to Earth, Venus is some 38 million miles (about 61 million kilometers) distant. But most of the time the two planets are farther apart. Mercury, the innermost planet, actually spends more time in Earth’s proximity than Venus.
One more trick of perspective: how Venus looks through binoculars or a telescope. Keep watch over many months, and you’ll notice that Venus has phases, just like our Moon – full, half, quarter, etc. The complete cycle, however, new to full, takes 584 days. While our Moon takes just a month. And it was this perspective, the phases of Venus first observed by Galileo through his telescope. That provided the key scientific proof for the Copernican heliocentric nature of the Solar System.
Orbit and Rotation
Spending a day on Venus would be quite a disorienting experience . That is, if your ship or suit could protect you from temperatures in the range of 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 Celsius). For one thing, your “day” would be 243 Earth days long. Longer even than a Venus year (one trip around the Sun), which takes only 225 Earth days. For another, because of the planet’s extremely slow rotation, sunrise to sunset would take 117 Earth days. The Sun would rise in the west and set in the east, because Venus spins backward compared to Earth.
While you’re waiting, don’t expect any seasonal relief from the unrelenting temperatures. On Earth, with its spin axis tilted by about 23 degrees, we experience summer when our part of the planet (our hemisphere) receives the Sun’s rays more directly – a result of that tilt. In winter, the tilt means the rays are less direct. No such luck on Venus: Its very slight tilt is only three degrees. Which is too little to produce noticeable seasons.
Formation and Structure
The close similarities of early Venus and Earth, and their very different fates, provide a kind of test case for scientists who study planet formation. Similar size, similar interior structure, both harboring oceans in their younger days. Yet one is now an inferno, while the other is the only known world. So far – to play host to abundant life. The factors that set these planets on almost opposite paths began, most likely, in the swirling disk of gas and dust from which they were born. Somehow, 4.6 billion years ago that disk around our Sun accreted, cooled, and settled into the planets we know today. Several might well have moved in closer, or farther out, as the solar system formed.
If we could slice Venus and Earth in half and place them side by side, they would look remarkably similar. Each planet has an iron core enveloped by a hot-rock mantle; the thinnest of skins forms a rocky, exterior crust. On both planets, this thin skin changes form and sometimes erupts into volcanoes in response to the ebb and flow of heat and pressure deep beneath.
Other possible similarities will require further investigation. Perhaps another visit to a planet that has hosted many Earth probes, both in orbit and (briefly) on the surface. On Earth, the slow movement of continents over millions of years reshapes the surface, a process known as “plate tectonics.” Something similar might have happened on Venus early in its history. Today a key element of this process could be operating: subduction, or the sliding of one continental “plate” beneath another. Which can also trigger volcanoes. Subduction is believed to be the first step in creating plate tectonics.
The broiling surface of Venus has been a topic of heated discussion among planetary scientists. The traditional picture includes a catastrophic, planetwide resurfacing between 350 and 750 million years ago. In other words, Venus appears to have completely erased most traces of its early surface. The causes: volcanic and tectonic forces, which could include surface buckling and massive eruptions. But newer estimates made with help from computer models paint a different portrait. While the same forces would be at work. Resurfacing would be piecemeal over an extended time. The average age of surface features could be as young as 150 million years, with some older surfaces mixed in.
Venus is a landscape of valleys and high mountains dotted with thousands of volcanoes. Its surface features – most named for both real and mythical women. It include Ishtar Terra, a rocky, highland area around the size of Australia near the north pole, and an even larger, South-America-sized region called Aphrodite Terra that stretches across the equator. One mountain reaches 36,000 feet (11 kilometers), higher than Mt. Everest. Notably, except for Earth, Venus has by far the fewest impact craters of any rocky planet, revealing a young surface.
On your tour of Venus, during the 117 days you’re waiting for sunset, you might stop by a volcanic crater. Sacajawea, named for Lewis and Clark’s Native American guide. Or stroll through a deep canyon, Diana, named for the Roman goddess of the hunt.
Click here for atmosphere and life potential related information about Venus.