The period of its orbit—that is, the length of the Venusian year—is As Venus and Earth revolve around the Sun, the distance between them varies from a minimum of about 42 million km 26 million miles to a maximum of about million km million miles. In fact, the discovery of these phases by the Italian scientist Galileo in was one of the most important in the history of astronomy.
The rotation of Venus on its axis is unusual in both its direction and its speed.
The Sun and most of the planets in the solar system rotate in a counterclockwise direction when viewed from above their north poles; this direction is called direct, or prograde. Venus, however, rotates in the opposite, or retrograde , direction.
Planet Venus Facts: A Hot, Hellish & Volcanic Planet | Space
Venus spins very slowly, taking about Earth days to complete one rotation with respect to the stars—the length of its sidereal day. The idea cited most often is that, when Venus was forming from the accretion of planetary building blocks planetesimals , one of the largest of these bodies collided with the proto-Venus in such a way as to tip it over and possibly slow its spin as well. The similarities to Earth in size and mass produce a similarity in density—5.
They also result in a comparable surface gravity—humans standing on Venus would possess nearly 90 percent of their weight on Earth. Venus is more nearly spherical than most planets.
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You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Everyone wants to get off the planet Earth and go explore the solar system , without realizing just how good we've got it down here. We've got a lot of air, more liquid water than we know what to do with, a nice strong planetary magnetic field that protects us cosmic radiation, and nice strong gravity that keeps our muscles strong and our bones thick.
But still, we look to our planetary neighbors for places to visit and maybe even live.
And Mars has all the attention nowadays: it's so hot right now, with everyone practically climbing over each other's rockets to get there in to build a nice little red home. But what about Venus? It's about the same size as the Earth and the same mass. It's actually a little bit closer than Mars. It's definitely warmer than Mars.
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So why don't we try going for our sister planet instead of the red one? It's hard to not exaggerate just how bad Venus is.
Planet Venus Facts: A Hot, Hellish & Volcanic Planet
Seriously, imagine in your head what the worst possible planet might be, and Venus is worse than that. Let's start with the atmosphere. If you think that the smog in LA is bad, you should take a whiff of Venus. It's almost entirely carbon dioxide and chokingly thick with an atmospheric pressure at the surface 90 times that of Earth. That's the equivalent pressure of a mile beneath our ocean waves. It's so thick that you almost have to swim through it just to move around.
Sulfuric acid clouds are highly reflective, giving Venus its characteristic brilliant shine. That means that you will only vaguely be aware of the difference between day and night. But despite that lack of sunlight, the temperature on Venus is literally hot enough to melt lead, at over degrees Fahrenheit degrees Celsius on average. In some places, in the deepest valleys, the temperature reaches over degrees Fahrenheit degrees Celsius , which is enough for the ground itself to glow a dull red.
At the level where the clouds are, about 30 miles up from the surface, it's about the same temperature as on the surface of the Earth. As Venus moves forward in its solar orbit while slowly rotating backwards on its axis, the top level of clouds zips around the planet every four Earth days, driven by hurricane-force winds traveling at about miles kilometers per hour. Atmospheric lightning bursts light up these quick-moving clouds. Speeds within the clouds decrease with cloud height, and at the surface are estimated to be just a few miles per hour.
On the ground, it would look like a very hazy, overcast day on Earth. And the atmosphere is so heavy it would feel like you were 1 mile 1.
Potential for Life. No human has visited Venus, but the spacecraft that have been sent to the surface of Venus do not last very long there. Venus' high surface temperatures overheat electronics in spacecraft in a short time, so it seems unlikely that a person could survive for long on the Venusian surface. There is speculation about life existing in Venus' distant past, as well as questions about the possibility of life in the top cloud layers of Venus' atmosphere, where the temperatures are less extreme.
Even though Venus is similar in size to the Earth and has a similarly-sized iron core, Venus' magnetic field is much weaker than the Earth's due to Venus' slow rotation. Size and Distance Size and Distance With a radius of 3, miles 6, kilometers , Venus is roughly the same size as Earth — just slightly smaller. A 3D model of Venus. A 3D model of the surface of Venus.
Our solar system is a stormy place. Join us on a tour of storms. Magellan became the first planetary probe to be launched by the Space Shuttle in People's Voice voting is underway. Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too.
The next full Moon will be on Feb. A Japanese research group has identified a giant streak structure among the clouds covering Venus based on observation from the spacecraft Akatsuki. Giant Pattern Discovered in the Clouds of Venus. November brings planets, an asteroid, a comet and the Leonids meteor shower. What's Up - November September nights! Planets bright!
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Milky Way sights!! What's Up - September What's up in the night sky this month? What's Up - June There are over 3, planets in our galaxy. Spend Memorial Day barbecuing it up on any of these alien worlds.