Venus is the second planet from the Sun, after Mercury. It is a rocky planet, similar in size to Earth, but very inhospitable.

Venus in UV, taken by Pioneer Venus Orbiter (February 26, 1979)
Credit: NASA

Facts About Venus:

  • Due to its similar size and orbit, Venus is sometimes referred to as Earth's twin planet.
  • It is the hottest planet in our Solar System (462°C) due to greenhouse effect.
  • Venus is permanently covered in a thick layer of clouds composed of sulphuric acid. The clouds make the surface impossible to see from space so our robotic probes use other techniques such as radar imaging to "see" the ground.
  • Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System, despite being farther from the Sun than Mercury. This is because Mercury isn't good at holding its heat whereas the clouds on Venus make it a champion heat-hoarder. Venus can reach 470°C.
  • From Earth, Venus is one of the brightest objects in the night sky, partly because its clouds are very reflective. It gets bright enough to cast shadows.
  • The atmosphere on Venus is 92 times as dense as Earth's atmosphere.
  • Venus rotates in the wrong direction. Most other planets spin in a counter-clockwise direction as seen from their north pole. Venus spins clockwise, possibly due to a large collision with another planet in the distant past.
  • Venus spins very slowly, taking 243 Earth days to spin once. This is actually longer than it takes the planet to orbit the Sun (225 Earth days), meaning that one day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.
  • Another odd effect of the backwards rotation is that the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
  • There are more volcanoes on Venus than any other planet in the Solar System.
  • Venus is one of two planets in the Solar System that have no moons (the other is Mercury).
  • It is unlikely but not impossible that life could exist on Venus. Probably not on the surface but it is plausible that bacteria could survive floating around in the atmosphere.
  • It is possible that humans could colonize Venus one day, or at least the clouds of Venus. The surface would be too hostile but a habitat could easily float high in the thick atmosphere (an airtight habitat at Earth atmospheric pressure would be buoyant in the Venus Atmosphere).
  • Being closer to the Sun than us, Venus has phases when seen from Earth.
  • Venus probably had oceans in the past, may have evaporated and contributed to atmosphere. UV light split H20 into H2 and O. Being light, H2 molecules were lost into space, making the evaporation irreversable.
  • 500 million years ago Venus was apparently resurfaced in a volcanic frenzy that happens periodically due to internal temperature buildup (no water = no plate tectonics = no heat release).
Classification: Planet (orbiting Sun)
Names:  Sol 2, Kōpū, Tāwera (o te ata), Meremere, Rereahiahi (o te ahiahi)
Diameter:  12102 km
Mass:  4.8675e+24 kg
Rotation period:  -243 days
Atmosphere:  Extremely dense, 96.5% CO2
Orbit Radius:  0.72 AU (108 million km; 67 million miles)
Semi-major axis:  0.723332 AU (108,208,000 km)
Orbital Period:  224.7 Earth days, 1.92 Venus solar days
Eccentricity:  0.00677200
Surface Area:  460230000 km2
Surface Gravity:  0.9040 g
Adjective:  Venusian
Venus radar image
Composite radar image by Magellan spacecraft, taken between 1990–1994.
Credit: NASA
The surface of Venus
CGI created from Magellan images and topography data. Colouring is based on Venera 13 and 14 Lander images.
Credit: ASA/JPL
Venus Cutaway
Venus Cutaway