Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the second planet from the Sun. Venus is often-times called, Earth’s sister planet, and is our closest planetary neighbor. Venus is so bright, that after the moon, it’s the second brightest object in the night sky. Sometimes it’s even visible to the naked eye during the day. Much like its other neighbor Mercury, Venus is moonless and is one of the four terrestrial planets of our Solar System (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). Below are some more facts about Venus.
1. A day on Venus is 243 Earth days
A year on Venus is 225 Earth days. This means it takes Venus 225 Earth days to go around the sun. It’s slow rotation means a day on Venus is even longer than its year, coming in at 243 Earth days.
2. Venus is the only planet to rotate clockwise
This is called retrograde rotation, or rotational motion of an object opposite of the primary object (the Sun).
When analyzed from the Sun’s north pole, our neighbor Venus, is the only planet that spins clockwise. Every other planet in our solar system spins in a counter-clock wise direction.
3. Average temperature on Venus is a hot 462 °C (863.6 °F)
The surface temperature on Venus is so hot, that you could melt lead! Yeah… lead! The element they use to block scattering x-rays in hospitals.
Since Venus does not have a tilt, there are no seasons. Additionally, the atmospheric composition prevents the heat of the sun from escaping aiding in the extreme temperatures (discussed further in point 8).
4. The Venus atmosphere moves very fast
Winds on Venus move so fast, that in 24 hours, clouds in Venus’s atmosphere travel around the planet 5 times!
5. Atmospheric pressure on Venus is 92 times Earth’s
If you stood on the Venusian surface, the pressure from the atmosphere around you would be equivalent to the pressure found 3,000 ft (914 m) under water.
If you did miss the Earth, you could travel 31 mi (50 km) up into the atmosphere and experience a pressure level similar to that of Earth :).
6. Venus is the only planet except Earth to have Volcanic activity
Venus is the only planet, in addition to Earth, that hosts Volcanic activity. The surface of Earth’s sister planet, is littered with more than 1,600 major volcanoes.
The types of Venusian volcanoes include, shield volcanoes, pancake domes, and numerous lava flows. Shield volcanoes are shared like large disks and are primarily highly fluid lava. Pancake domes are large homes of volcanoes nearly 9 miles (14.5 km) wide and around 0.5 miles (0.8 km) tall.
7. Venus may have once been a paradise
A new study presented at the European Planetary Science Congress by Dr. Michael Way, in 2019, suggests that for 2 to 3 billion years, Venus played host to liquid water. Researchers believe that 700 to 750 million years ago, something happened that changed this.
Venus’s proximity to the sun, means it receives almost double the solar radiation of Earth, which may have released a large about of sub-surface gas. Altering of Venus’s atmospheric composition by this or by volcanic activity may have been the catalyst in its change to what we see today. More missions to the planet can help us gain a better understanding.
Our hypothesis is that Venus may have had a stable climate for billions of years. It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hot-house we see todayDr. Michael Way
8. The atmosphere is mainly carbon dioxide with sulfuric acid clouds
The Venusian atmosphere is primarily 96.5% carbon dioxide (0.04% on Earth) and 3.5% nitrogen (78.09% on Earth). The clouds of sulfuric acid release rain drops of sulfuric acid towards the ground, but it never reaches the surface. The high heat evaporates the sulfuric acid before it reaches the surface, sending it back into the upper atmosphere.
9. The heat from the Sun is mostly trapped on Venus due to a “runaway greenhouse effect”
On Earth, heat from the Sun strikes our surface and a lot of it is reflected into space. On Venus the sun light that enters the atmosphere is trapped by the cloud layer of the planet.
The entering rays of the Sun enter through the Venusian atmosphere. They are not stopped because a majority of the wavelength coming in is not efficiently absorbed by carbon dioxide, which is the primary gas of the atmosphere. When these rays hit the surface, they radiate out in the infrared spectrum, which is well absorbed by carbon dioxide. This prevents their release into space and traps them on Venus. This same greenhouse effect occurs on Earth, but our low carbon dioxide levels allow for much of the reflected rays to be released into the atmosphere.
10. The Russians were first to Venus with the Venera 1 probe launched in 1961
Since Venera 1, more than 40 spacecraft heave visited Venus. The composition of the Venusian atmosphere makes it impossible for Earth based observatories to view its surface.
Its proximity to Earth, allows for easier journeys and gives scientists the ability to peer under the dense clouds that cover its surface.