Solar system

The planet Venus

The planet Venus

Venus It is the second planet in the Solar System and the most similar to Earth because of its size, gravity, mass, density and volume. But until there; Venus is uninhabitable because of its infernal heat.

The Romans named it for its beauty in honor of Venus, his goddess of love, equivalent to the Greek Aphrodite. Venus and Gea (Earth) are the only planets in the Solar System that have goddess names.

What is Venus like?

Venus and Earth formed at the same time, from the same nebula. Both are rocky and of land type. However, they are very different. Venus has no satellites that orbit around it. It also has no oceans. In addition, its dense atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect that raises the temperature to 500 ° C. It is scorching.

The first astronomers thought that Venus were two different bodies, because sometimes it looks a little before the sun rises and, sometimes, just after sunset. Venus is the third brightest object we can see in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon. The impressive brightness of this star (at dawn or sunset, depending on when you see it), the most beautiful of the planets, is due to three factors:

• It is the planet whose orbit we have closer.
• It has a great apparent size, since the real one is similar to Earth.
• Have a albedo very high, since its atmosphere reflects a lot of light.

Venus rotates on its axis very slowly and in the opposite direction to that of the other planets. The Sun rises in the west and sets in the east, unlike what happens on Earth. In addition, the Venusian day lasts longer than the year.

The following table compares Venus data and earth:

Basic dataVenusThe earth
Size: equatorial radius6,052 km.6,378 km.
Average distance to the Sun108,200,000 km.149,600,000 km.
Day: period of rotation on the axis -243 days23.93 hours
Year: orbit around the Sun224.7 days365,256 days
Average surface temperature457 º C15 º C
Surface gravity in the equator8.87 m / s29.78 m / s2

The orbits of Mercury and Venus are lower to those of the Earth; that is why we can observe the passage of these two planets in front of the Sun. However, the Venus transit It is a rare astronomical event that occurs in June or December in pairs separated by eight years, and away from the next pair of transits for more than a century. The last one happened in 2012.

The Venus surface He is relatively young, "only" is between 300 and 500 million years old. It is formed by vast plains, crossed by huge lava rivers, and some mountains.

The photos show the bright terrain, as if it were wet. But Venus cannot have liquid water, because of the high temperature. The brightness is caused by metallic compounds.

On Venus there are also craters from meteor impacts. Only the big ones, because the little ones fall apart in the thick atmosphere, composed of carbon dioxide and some nitrogen. The atmospheric pressure on the surface of Venus is about 90 times what we have on the surface of the Earth, equivalent to that here we can measure one kilometer deep under the ocean waters.

Venus has many volcanoes, the highest of which is called Maat Mons. 85% of the planet is covered by volcanic rock. The lava has created grooves, some very long. There is one of 7,000 km.

Venus exploration

After the Moon, the planet Venus was the second star in the Solar System visited by a terrestrial spacecraft. During the 1960s and 1970s there were several attempts at rapprochement by Soviets and Americans. In March 1982, the Russian ship (Soviet, actually) Venera 13 resisted for two hours, sending images like this. In the lower right part you see a piece of the ship resting on the Venusian surface.

In the 1990s the NASA Magellan mission mapped the surface of Venus and the first detailed maps were obtained. Since the beginning of the 21st century, other North American, Russian, European and Japanese probes have been launched that intend to study this intriguing planet.

Discover more:
• The exploration of Venus
• Venus could also be a world of water
• The 2004 Venus Transit

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