Venus – Our closest planet?

Venus is a remarkable astronomical object that is actually the “closest” planet to Earth. The closest is in quotation marks because although Venus is actually the planet that gets the closest to Earth, Mercury is the planet that is closer to Earth more often than Venus (due to orbital differences).

In comparison to Earth, Venus is very similar in size, density,  and chemical composition. The main difference is the atmosphere composition and surface conditions. Astronomers say that if Venus was were Earth is and Earth is where Venus is, the planets are so similar that Venus would become Earth and Earth would become Venus – that is taking up the same atmospheric characteristics, etc.

Venus is a very interesting planet compared to the other planets in our solar system.

  • It is the hottest planet (even though its not the closest planet to the Sun)
  • You cannot see the surface of the planet due to its thick atmosphere
  • You cannot send a spacecraft to land on Venus because it will melt (only Russia has ever landed on Venus)
  • Venus rotates every 243 days
  • And spins the opposite way from every other planet

This actually makes out a cool fact if you think about it. Venus rotates around the Sun every 225 days but only rotates every 243 days. That means that a day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus!!

Due to the inability to actually land on Venus and map out its terrain as we do with other planets. Venus has to be mapped in radio waves. What astronomers have discovered through these radio waves is that the surface is dominated by volcanoes (Shield Volcanoes). This means that the surface of Venus is very active (volcanically wise) but we cannot see it – only by heat maps. The Surface of Venus is very sharp, rugged, and ashy.

The interesting part of Venus (although all of this is mind-blowing…ha-ha) is the atmosphere. Although Venus and Earth are similar in size, the planet’s atmosphere is 90x the mass of Earth’s. It contains ~96%CO2, 3.5%N2, and small amounts of sulfur compounds. Since Earth has about 3.5%N2 as well, the main difference with Venus is the CO2…this means that there is major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and the temperatures on Venus exceed 462 degrees Celsius due to the CO2. This can happen to Earth if we are not careful.


Venus is very interesting. My next blog will be about Mars and was water is located on Mars.

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