The wonderful planet Venus, often called the “Earth’s twin” due to its physical properties, is actually a planet inhospitable to life and a human can die on its surface in moments. Here’s everything you need to know about this planet.
Venus is the second planet in the solar system in terms of its distance from the sun, and it is a planet that is characterized by many distinct characteristics, some of these characteristics make it resemble the earth, and some of them make it a strange and inhospitable planet for life, such as the atmosphere that causes corrosion and overwhelming atmospheric pressure.
Although it is closer to us than Mars, the images of its surface and the scientific data that we know about it are much less than those available on the red planet, and we know and are absolutely certain that life does not exist on Venus (we are talking about the type of life we know).
Venus is the second brightest object in the sky after the moon, and it can appear as a bright spot at sunrise and sunset, the only moments of the day when you can enjoy seeing this planet. For this reason, Venus is also known as the “morning star,” a name given in ancient times when it was not known to be a planet.
The day on Venus lasts more than a year
Venus is about 110 million kilometers from the sun, and 38 million kilometers from Earth when it is at its lowest distance from our planet (perihelion).
To complete a full circle around the sun, which is the duration of the planet’s year, it takes 224.7 days, at a speed of 35 kilometers per second. Oddly enough, Venus’ rotation is opposite, that is, it rotates clockwise, unlike almost all other planets in the Solar System (the exception is Uranus). However, the most intriguing detail is the duration of the day, which is the duration of a full rotation around, which takes 243 Earth days, meaning that a day on Venus lasts more than a year. The very slow rotation around itself is one of the mysteries the Venus Express probe tried to understand, which showed that the planet is slowing down even more. According to astronomers, the slowdown could be caused by a very violent collision with an asteroid.
Venus is a hellish place
Since Mercury is the planet closest to the sun, many believe it to be the hottest in the solar system, but the hottest planet is Venus. In fact, Venus can have a surface temperature of 480 degrees Celsius (just enough to melt lead), as opposed to 427 degrees Celsius on Mercury. The reason is the extremely strong greenhouse effect of the atmosphere of Venus, which is not suitable for breathing and causes corrosion due to the amount of carbon dioxide (which makes up more than 96 percent of the atmosphere), sulfuric acid, sulfur dioxide and other compounds that dissolve in clouds. A gas that is able to block sunlight. Of reflection after reaching the planet’s surface.
The immunity of Venus’ clouds is also responsible for its intense brightness, as they reflect more than 75 percent of the sun’s rays, which means it is impossible to observe its surface from Earth. To these circumstances, you must also add pressure on the surface that exceeds 90 air pressure, in practice, the atmospheric pressure on Venus is equivalent to the same pressure at a depth of a thousand meters below the surface of the water on the ground.
All these poor conditions, Venus is called the “Earth’s twin”, because its mass, size and density are similar to those on Earth.
Winds at 720 km / h and gravitational waves
The atmosphere of Venus has another unusual feature, in addition to being extremely pressure and hot, which prompts space agencies to design innovative protection systems for probes that will land on the planets’ surface. Its winds are so fast that it takes only four days to complete a full circle around the planet. Recently, thanks to the analysis of images captured by the VIRTIS spectrometer installed on the missing European Space Agency ‘s Venus Express probe , scientists from the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) discovered that Venus’s night atmosphere is more chaotic and turbulent than the day’s atmosphere. These strange conditions are also caused by the massive atmospheric gravitational waves observed by the Japanese Akatsuki probe. It’s so large that it encompasses more than half of the planet and stays visible for days.
Because the planet rotates in a clockwise direction, this means that if you were on its surface, you would see the sun rise in the west and set in the east.
Dry surface and violent weather
Venus is empty of water, the planet might have had seas and oceans like the Earth, then it evaporated, and now the soil looks barren and rocky. Desert plains occupy most of the surface of Venus and at least 85 of them are covered by lava flows, to the point where the Magellan probe has found traces of lava rivers over 6,000 km in length.
There are at least 156 large volcanoes on the planet (each extending more than 100 kilometers), to which many other smaller volcanoes are added.
Venus has a very dense and warm atmosphere, in its upper layers there is a thick layer of clouds. The atmosphere is 96 percent carbon dioxide and 4 percent nitrogen gas, with traces of sulfur dioxide, argon and water vapor. Carbon dioxide keeps the sun’s heat, making the average temperature of the planet around 480 degrees Celsius. The dense atmosphere and high temperatures make it difficult for probes to get close to the planet, and for many years there was no information on its surface.
The clouds of Venus float 60 km above its surface, and their highest altitudes can reach about 95 km, and their temperature is about 30 ° C, day and night. These clouds consist mostly of sulfuric acid and a little bit of hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, fluorine and chlorine. It is capable of reflecting about 70 percent of the light from the sun, which is why Venus is one of the brightest objects in our sky. But these clouds prevent us from observing the surface.
Observe and explore Venus
The study of Venus began with observations of Galileo Galilei, who was the first to observe its phases, which are very similar to those of the Moon.
By analyzing the relationships between Venus, Earth and the Sun specifically, the heliocentric theory proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus emerged , which means that the sun at the center of the solar system and the planets revolve around it.
Due to the presence of dense clouds, the surface of Venus is invisible, and many orbital probes have had difficulty noticing what was underneath, to the point that scientists before the 1970s assumed the existence of oceans, swamps, or deserts on Venus.
In December 1970, the Russian probe “Venera 7” became the first probe to land on a planet outside the planet, and it sent a signal to Earth.
The “Cassini” spacecraft sent a lot of data as it approached Venus, but for more specific details, we had to wait for the “Magellan” spacecraft of NASA, which mapped the entire planet in 1990, and the “Venus Express” spacecraft of the agency European space and that completed the American mission.
Venus is currently being studied in depth by Japanese astronomers at the Japan Space Exploration Agency, and future and ambitious exploration missions using super-sensors are being planned by both NASA and the Russian Space Agency .