Venus (2)
Mariner 10 image of Venus.
Diameter 12,104 km
7,520 mi.
Distance from the Sun 108 million km
67 million mi.
Nickname(s) Earth's Sister
Cloudy Planet
The Second Rock
The Planet of a Star
Brightest Planet
Earth's Evil Twin
Twin Planet
Number of moons 0
Length of day 243 days
Length of year 225 days
Atmosphere Components Carbon (96%)
Nitrogen (3.5%)

Venus is a planet, the second planet from the Sun and it is the sixth largest planet in the solar system.

The planet has clouds made up of sulfuric acid that hide the planet's surface from view. It is not much to see, because the thick carbon dioxide atmosphere has given Venus a hellish surface temperature of 460°C (860°F) with an air pressure 90 times that of Earth. It is a desolate, waterless, rocky desert only.

With its reflective clouds and its relative closeness to Earth and the Sun, Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky (that is why they call it the morning and evening star). It is sometimes called the Earth's "twin planet" because it began as a very similar body, about the same size as Earth.

Roman God of LoveEdit


A peace.

Venus was the goddess of agriculture, but was later identified with the Greek goddess Aphrodite and became known as a goddess of love.


Unclouded Venus

Hemispheric view of Venus produced by Magellan.

Molten Surface on Venus

Pancake Domes on Venus in 3-D view.

The surface of Venus is a rocky, dusty, waterless expanse of mountains, canyons, and plains. Most of Venus is relatively "new" lava plains about 300 million years old, marked by volcanic features and some impact craters. There are two highland "continent" features called Ishtar Terra and Aphrodite Terra. The planet appears to be a barren desert covered by slab-like rocks and dust.

Life on Venus?Edit

North pole of Venus

A north pole of Venus

Venus is an unlikely place to find living things. The sulphuric acid is not the problem—there are bacteria on Earth which excrete and thrive in sulphuric acid. The immense pressure is not a problem—although it would splat you flat, there are creatures at the bottom's of the Earth's oceans who survive much greater pressures. These creatures are not crushed by the immense pressure since they are adapted to these conditions and the pressure inside their cells is just as great, thus counterbalancing the external pressure upon them. They also have special enzymes, since certain chemical reactions (those involving a tiny increase in volume) are inhibited at such pressures. The problem is the immense temperature. Even if liquid water existed under pressure, the heat would tend to disrupt complex molecules. However, the clouds of Venus are cool and it is likely that certain bacteria can survive and grow within the clouds. We also must ask ourselves if conditions are so harsh deep down inside the planet's crust. However, even if a place can be found where bacteria-like organisms could thrive, this does not mean that they would have evolved there—the temperatures really do seem prohibitively high.[1]

Finally, we have to ask whether Venus was always this hostile to life.


Magellan orbit

Mapping Venus' surface in orbit of Magellan.

The Magellan spacecraft was the first planetary explorer to be launched by a space shuttle when it was carried aloft by the shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 1989. Atlantis took Magellan into low Earth orbit, where it was released from the shuttle's cargo bay and fired by a solid-fuel motor called the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) on its way to Venus. Magellan looped around the Sun one-and-a-half times before arriving at Venus on August 10, 1990. A solid-fuel motor on the spacecraft then fired, placing Magellan into a near-polar elliptical orbit around Venus.

The spacecraft carried a sophisticated imaging radar, which was used to make the most highly detailed map of Venus ever captured during its four years in orbit around Venus from 1990 to 1994. After concluding its radar mapping, Magellan also made global maps of Venus's gravity field. Flight controllers then tested a new maneuvering technique called aerobraking, which uses a planet's atmosphere to slow or steer a spacecraft. The spacecraft made a dramatic plunge into the thick, hot Venusian atmosphere on October 12, 1994, and was crushed by the pressure of Venus's atmosphere. Magellan's signal was lost at 10:02 Universal Time (3:02 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time) that day.

The Magellan mission was divided up into "cycles" with each cycle lasting 243 days (the time necessary for Venus to rotate once under the Magellan orbit).


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