Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system and the second closest planet to the Sun. It has a pale tan color caused by its thick atmosphere that traps carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid in large clouds close to its surface. It has a surface pressure 90 times more powerful than Earth’s, and surface temperatures that exceed 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius). Despite all its differences from Earth, however, Venus is often referred to as “Earth’s twin.” This is due to its comparable size to Earth, as well as its density. Here is a closer look at Venus’ size and more.
Venus has a mass of approximately 4.868×1024 kilograms or 1.073×1025 pounds. This is around 82 percent of Earth’s mass, which is 5.972×1024 kilograms, or 1.317×1025 pounds. Scientists believe that this mass comes from the many rocks and metals that make up Venus’s crust, as well as a molten rock mantle and liquid metallic core.
Venus has a surface area of around 460,234,316 square kilometers or 177,697,463 square miles. Earth is only slightly larger, with a surface area of 510,064,473 square kilometers (196,936,994 square miles). Venus is unique in the fact that it has a fairly young surface. Scientists believe that the planet’s surface is around 150,000,000 years old, which is incredibly new for our solar system. The reason for this oddly young surface is still unknown.
From one end to the other, Venus has a diameter of 12,104 kilometers or 7,521 miles. The planet is only one-and-a-tenth times smaller than Earth, which measures 12,756 kilometers (7,926 miles) in diameter. While the diameters are almost identical, Venus rotates on its axis in the opposite direction that Earth does, meaning that from the surface, the Sun would rise in the west and set in the east. In addition, the planet rotates extremely slowly. One “day” on Venus is equivalent to 243 days on Earth, although it only takes the planet 225 days to complete a rotation around the Sun due to its proximity.
Other Facts About Venus
Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky other than Earth’s moon. This is due to its reflection of light from the Sun, as well as the large clouds of gases and high temperatures within the planet’s atmosphere. The surface of the planet is so hot because of the extreme atmospheric pressure, trapping gases like sulfur and creating a greenhouse effect that maintains blistering temperatures. Venus’s surface is even hot enough to melt lead.
Because of its close proximity and similarity to Earth, Venus has been studied for thousands of years. Homer referenced it in ancient Greek times and it became the first planet that humans explored by spacecraft. While the hostile environment of the planet suggests that life is probably unsustainable on Venus, scientists have theorized that microbes may be able to survive in clouds that have cooler temperatures far from the surface of the planet.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/3quarks
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