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Venus

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049

Venus

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Venus and Earth are sometimes called sister planets because of their similar size, but don't let this comparison fool you! Venus, the second planet from the Sun, has a thick and heavy atmosphere that traps the Sun's heat to produce sizzling temperatures. This planetary greenhouse has been visited by over twenty spacecrafts. Each mission returned with important data about this mysterious planet.

Morning Star
This beautiful planet was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Many believe that because the Romans recognized this planet as the brightest in the night sky, it was named after Venus, their gorgeous goddess. Venus is so bright that when it is visible in the morning, it is known as the "morning star" and, at night, as the "evening star." Venus appears so bright because of its clouds. Venus' thick, smoky clouds cover its entire surface and act as excellent reflectors of sunlight. The only celestial object to outshine Venus in the night sky is the Moon.

What problem does Venus have in common with Earth?

too many tourists

frequent tidal waves

overheating because of the Greenhouse Effect

Are you right?

Correct!

Venus' thick atmosphere traps a lot of heat from the Sun. It's a very extreme example of the Greenhouse Effect, which also heats up Earth.

Mordecai-Mark MacLow, astrophysicist

Not only can terrestrial life not survive on the surface of Venus, even terrestrial space probes haven't survived the pressure cooker conditions there for more than a few minutes!

Aside from its many meteor craters, Venus' surface looks the same as it did when the planet formed.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Venus' surface has been completely remade within the last two billion years by volcanoes spewing lava. Some lava flows are hundreds of miles long.

A day on Venus lasts longer than a year on Venus.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Venus rotates so slowly that it takes longer to make one daily turn (243 Earth days) than to make a yearly orbit around the Sun (224.7 Earth days).

Diameter: 7,500 miles Number of Moons: 0
Location: 2nd planet from Sun
Average Distance from Sun: 67 million miles
Average Surface Temperature: 870 degrees F
Orbital Period: 224.7 days
Characteristics: thick clouds filled with acid from its many volcanoes cover its surface
Significance: Earth's closest neighbor, just slightly smaller than Earth

Image credits: courtesy of NASA; Mordecai-Mark MacLow: AMNH.