Venus is the brightest natural entity that can be spotted in the night sky – second only to the Moon. Being the second planet from the Sun, Venus can be seen in broad daylight, and most interestingly, it can also cast shadows.
The planet is known for its similarity to Earth in terms of mass, size, composition, and distance from the Sun. However, this is where similarities end. Venus’s atmosphere consists of more than 96% carbon dioxide, making it the terrestrial planet with the densest atmosphere in the Solar System.
Venus is the planet with the hottest surface. However, this doesn’t mean it can support life, as you’ll see below. At the same time, it is surrounded by sulfuric acid clouds. Other characteristics that influence temperature are a missing planetary magnetic field and the presence of a runaway greenhouse effect.
If you’re curious about how temperatures vary on this planet, let’s find out how hot the surface of Venus really is and what could survive there!
How hot is the surface of Venus really?
The average temperature of Venus’ surface is about 847 °F ( from 820 to 900 °F). This is due to the planet’s atmosphere, which is thick and consists primarily of carbon dioxide. At the same time, it has a pressure 92 times higher than the one of Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, Venus is extremely hot all year round.
Most of the planet’s surface – about 85% – is inhabited by volcanic rock and giant lava flows. The temperatures don’t get any lower during the night. The planet’s atmosphere features strong winds of about 200 mph that constantly transfer heat throughout the planet. Therefore, as long as one side of the planet is burning hot, the entire planet follows. There aren’t many organisms that could actually live here.
Venus is often referred to as Earth’s evil twin thanks to these temperatures and its scorching surface. While they greatly resemble in terms of density and size, every other characteristic is met with drastic differences.
According to NASA, the mean temperature of Venus is 867 °F (mean temperature accounts for temperatures across the entire surface of this rocky planet).
What could survive on Venus?
Temperatures on Venus are about seven to eight times higher than the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth (134 °F). The planet is so hot that lead sitting on its surface would simply melt away.
If we are to account only for the planet’s surface, then no organism could actually survive its extremely high temperatures. Research shows that thermophiles (a type of extremophile) can survive at temperatures of about 106 °F to 252 °F. Even the most resistant thermophiles, known as hyperthermophiles, couldn’t endure 847 °F of heat. One strain of hyperthermophile, strain 121, can survive temperatures of up to 266 °F for a maximum of two hours. Beyond this value, the organism’s reproductive abilities shut down and can’t be reactivated until the temperature drops.
On the other hand, some studies show that the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere could be able to support life. These layers have a high level of acidity, but mild temperatures. These conditions could be ideal for thermoacidophilic organisms – which can survive both high temperatures and acidic environments with a low pH.
Could tomato plants or other vegetables/fruits survive on the surface of Venus?
Tomato plants, vegetables, and fruits couldn’t survive the scorching hot temperatures on the surface of Venus. Plants are in their comfort zone in areas with temperatures of up to 90 °F. Higher temperatures lead to wilting leaves and, ultimately, a dead plant.
Given that Venus’ surface temperature is about nine times the maximum temperature most plants can survive, it goes without saying that no living organism could survive there.
Could tardigrades survive on the surface of Venus?
Tardigrades are tiny, microscopic animals that survived being exposed to outer space and are believed to be able to withstand even the apocalypse. They are known as the most resilient animals on Earth, being able to survive extreme conditions, especially extreme temperatures. But could they survive on the surface of Venus?
These tiny animals can survive three types of temperatures, depending on their state. In their active – alive – state, they can survive temperatures of up to 98 °F. In their tun state, meaning dried and lifeless, they can survive a few days at temperatures as low as -328 °F and a few minutes at temperatures of approximately 300 °F.
Given the temperatures on the surface of Venus, tardigrades couldn’t survive there. Like anything exposed to this planet’s temperatures, these micro-animals would be turned into cinders.
Would water be frozen or liquid on the surface of Venus?
Water doesn’t and probably wouldn’t exist on the surface of Venus. It starts to evaporate at 212 °F and will continue to do so until it vanishes completely.
At the same time, superheated water cannot exist on Venus either. Also known as subcritical water, superheated water can keep its liquid form at temperatures up to 705 °F. However, this requires water to be under pressure in a sealed vessel so that the created vapor rapidly returns to the water mass, keeping it liquid. Venus is simply too hot to have even a single drop of water on its surface.
Are there any signs of life on Venus?
There are no signs of life, past or present, on the surface or within the atmosphere of Venus. The planet’s environment is the polar opposite of Earth’s environment. Venus would theoretically be way above the boiling point for any living organism on Earth and most substances and materials.
The material with the highest melting point is tungsten – 6,192 °F. Venus’ core has a temperature of 8900 °F. If tungsten were an organism, it could survive on this planet’s surface.
The main characteristics of Venus
|Volume||Mass||Surface gravity||Average surface temperature||Predominant composition element|
|Venus||0.857 Earths||0.815 Earths||0.904 g||847 °F||Carbon dioxide (96.5%)|
|Earth||2.59876×1011 cu mi||1.31668×1025 lb||1 g / 32.1740 ft/s2||57 °F||Nitrogen (78.08%)|
How long is a one-way trip to Venus?
A one-way trip to Venus is about three months long. The length of the trip varies depending on where Venus is located in its orbit. The first spacecraft in the history of humankind to ever visit a planet was Mariner 2, and its target was Venus.
Mariner 2 reached the planet in 1962 and scanned it for about 42 minutes before continuing its trip.
7 interesting facts about Venus
Do you want to find out more about the hottest planet in our Solar System? Here are seven interesting facts that might blow your mind!
- Venus presents extreme temperatures primarily due to its extremely thick atmosphere. It creates an immense greenhouse effect that constantly heats up the planet.
- Venus is one of the two planets in our Solar System that spins the opposite way (the other one is Uranus).
- Venus spins around its own axis once every 243 Earth days. However, the upper layer of its atmosphere does this in only 4 Earth days. The phenomenon is known as atmospheric superrotation and is attributed to the thermal tides created by the Sun.
- Venus is home to over 1,600 volcanoes and is the planet with the most volcanoes in the Solar System.
- The air pressure on the planet’s surface is the same as the pressure experienced half a mile under the Earth’s ocean surface. In short, Venusian pressure is 90 times higher than Earth’s.
- Venus is one of the two planets that can be seen crossing the Sun from Earth. The other planet is Mercury. This phenomenon, however, is rare. The next time humanity will see Venus crossing the Sun will be in 2117.
- The oldest sky records that point to Venus in the sky date back to 1600 BC. This is due to the fact that Venus is the brightest celestial body.
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