Although the human race’s exploration of space has boomed in recent years, we are still only aware of a small percentage of the universe. Scientists, astronomers, and physicists have discovered some amazing things about the solar system that our planet is found in. On the other hand, there are so many unanswered questions and mysterious phenomena that we simply can’t explain. Earth may feel like the biggest thing we can fathom, but it’s actually one of the smallest planets in our solar system. Most of the planets around us are substantially bigger than the one we live on.
There are a total of eight planets, orbiting around the Sun just like Earth. Not to mention, all of the other astronomical objects floating around, like stars, asteroids, and dwarf planets. Aside from Earth, the eight planets include Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. The second planet from the Sun is called Venus, and it’s one of the most interesting planets of all.
10Venus Has Influenced Many Cultures
Just like most of the other planets in our solar system, Venus is named after a deity from prehistoric cultures. However, unlike the other planets, Venus is named for a female deity. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love and romance. However, the influence of this planet on cultures extends much further than just its name. Being the brightest planet in the solar system, Venus was easily noticeable from Earth. The planet is actually even much brighter than most stars. Many different cultures named gods or other deities after Venus or even worshipped the planet itself.
In many historic myths and stories, the planet is referred to as the “Morning Star” or the “Evening Star.” Because of Venus’ unique cycle and orbit, it becomes invisible in the sky for days at a time, reappearing on the other side of the Sun. Ancient cultures actually believed it to be two separate stars because of this.
In ancient Mesopotamian cultures, they discovered that Venus was one object, but still attributed many dualistic features to the planet. Venus was associated with the goddess Ishtar. She was a goddess of love and war, presiding over both birth and death. In much of the mythology related to Ishtar, the goddess is represented as dual in nature, just as they perceived Venus to be. In some classic forms of Greek and Roman mythology, Venus’ brightness was recognized as Lucifer- a male figure is known as a bearer of light, usually depicted with a torch. It wasn’t until later that the name of the planet became better known as Venus.
9Venus Is a Bright Planet
Venus is a planet brighter than any other in our solar system. In fact, the planet is even brighter than any star in our solar system. Venus is the third brightest celestial object, only the Sun and the moon are brighter. This is one of the main reasons that Venus has been mistaken for a star in ancient times and why it took a while for astronomers to realize that it was, in fact, a planet. Venus is also close to Earth, which contributes to its clear visibility from the surface of our planet. The reason for Venus’ brightness is related to a very specific scientific process. It took a while for astronomers to figure out why exactly this planet was shining so much brighter than the rest of them.
The process is called albedo, and it’s responsible for Venus’ shining presence in the sky. The Sun is the source of most light in our solar system, and the brightness of a planet depends on the sunlight that is striking it. When sunlight hits a planet’s surface, some is absorbed and some are reflected back out to space. Albedo is the term for the difference between the light that hits a planet and the light that is reflected back out. Most planets only reflect back a small amount of the light that hits them. Venus, on the other hand, has the highest rate of the albedo of any planet. It reflects around 70 percent of all the sunlight that strikes its surface.
8Venus Is Quite Similar to Our Planet
Venus is sometimes called Earth’s sister planet, for a number of reasons. Of all the planets in our solar system, Venus is the most similar to Earth. First of all, Venus is very close in size to our planet. Most of the other planets are quite a bit bigger than Earth. Venus is also considered a terrestrial planet, just like Earth. Not to mention, Venus is the closest planet to us here on Earth, and it is found at a similar distance from the Sun.
Venus’ orbit actually overlaps with Earth’s, which explains why the bright planet is often visible from our sky. The mass of Venus is similar to Earth’s, and both are composed of a crust, molten mantle, and a central core. However, this is where the similarities end. Although Venus is more similar to Earth than any other planet in our solar system- it’s still quite different. This just goes to show how unique our planet really is.
Venus would definitely be uninhabitable by humans, due to a particularly volatile and dangerous surface. The environment is very hostile and the climate on Venus is extreme. Not to mention, Venus is surrounded by thick layers of sulphuric acid, and no water. There are thousands of massive volcanoes on the surface of Venus, making it quite a volatile place. Most of Venus’ other characteristics are quite different than Earth’s, as well. Time passes quite differently on the bright planet, and it even rotates in the opposite direction as Earth.
7What’s Venus Made of?
Many of the planets in our solar system are actually made up of gasses like hydrogen and helium. However, just like Earth, Venus is a terrestrial planet. This means that it is made up of rocky materials. The composition of Venus is nearly the same as the composition of our planet. About 96 percent of Venus is carbon dioxide, and the other four percent is made of nitrogen and other various gases. Just like Earth, the center of Venus is made of a central iron core. The next layer is called a rocky mantle.
Another one of Venus’ unique characteristics is an extremely smooth surface. Most planets, like Mars, have significant craters and texture on their surface. Astronomers believe that Venus’ past created a thick, solid crust at its surface. Venus was probably covered in craters and other scars during its early life, but the high number of volcanoes may have created a smooth new beginning.
It has been quite difficult for scientists to get a good look at the surface and composition of Venus due to the thick clouds covering the planet’s atmosphere. Clouds of thick sulphuric acid have made it difficult for spacecraft, satellites, or probes to get a good look underneath. The gases on Venus have extremely high densities, exacerbating the issue even further. Before getting a glimpse below the atmosphere, astronomers even believed that Venus could be inhabitable for humans. However, that quickly changed when they finally saw the extreme conditions that were hidden down there.
6How Does Time Work on Venus?
Another unique aspect of Venus is the way that time passes. Venus rotates much more slowly than Earth, making for a different length of days and years. A single day on Venus is actually almost the same length as a full year here on Earth. Because of Venus’ rotation patterns, on the day on Venus is actually equivalent to 243 days here on Earth- 5,832 hours to be exact. However, this equivalency is not exact. Space is a very diverse place, and the definition of a day isn’t always what you might think it is.
First of all, there are what scientists called sidereal days. These days are simply measured by a complete rotation of a planet on its own axis. A solar day, on the other hand, measures how long it takes for the Sun to return to the same place in the sky. On Earth, both sidereal and solar days are around 24 hours long. On Venus, a sidereal day lasts 243.025 days exactly. However, the length of a solar day on Venus is only about 116 Earth days.
Venus is unique in many respects, not just because of the length of its days. In fact, the rotation of Venus is actually opposite to that on Earth. This means that the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East because the planet rotates counter-clockwise around the Sun rather than clockwise. Astronomers call this a retrograde rotation, and it’s another reason why things are so different on Venus.
5Venus Has an Intense Climate
Venus is the hottest planet in the entire solar system, by a significant amount. The surface temperature of Venus reaches nearly 500 degrees Celsius, equivalent to almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Although Venus is close to the Sun, that is not the only reason for its extremely high temperatures. In fact, most of the fault lies with the heavy atmosphere and clouds of sulphuric acid. Climate scientists and astronomers have pointed out the interesting implications that Venus’ climate has for life on Earth.
Because of the sheer density of gasses on Venus, a significant greenhouse effect is created. Although Venus is only composed of less than four percent nitrogen, this is already much more than is found on Earth because it is so much denser. This presence of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gasses, is the reason why Venus’ climate is so extreme. Although Venus is further away from the Sun, it’s temperature is much hotter than that of Mercury’s or any other planet in our solar system.
Venus’ thick clouds are a source of protection for the planet, stopping any asteroids from striking, and stopping most of the Sun’s heat from breaking through. As such, the temperatures on Venus remain constant, fueled by the runaway greenhouse gas effect. Scientists have noted this as an interesting warning about the dangers of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere and the effect that this could have on our planet’s climate. Many researchers even believe that Venus’ current situation could be what Earth turns into eventually.
4Does Venus Have Moons?
Venus is one of the only planets in our solar system that does not have any natural satellites or moons. In fact, most planets have dozens or even hundreds of moons orbiting around them. Scientists are unsure about why Venus doesn’t have a moon-like most other planets. However, the process of acquiring a moon in the first place is an interesting phenomenon. There are dozens of moons in our solar system, and the truth is that most of them were probably acquired by accident. There are some different schools of thought on how moons come to be, but most scientists agree that it all changes throughout the years.
First off, moons can be acquired if they drift near a planet, essentially getting swept up into the planet’s magnetic field and orbit. Secondly, a celestial object could have smashed into a planet and then grouped together in orbit. This is how researchers believe that Earth acquired its moon. Or, the moon could have been developed the same way that the planet was, long ago, simply by a bunch of objects joining together in orbit. All three of these happenings are quite common due to the sheer amount of stuff floating around in space. That’s why it’s very unusual that Venus doesn’t have a single moon.
Venus may have had a moon in the past, but it slowly drifted away and subsequently out of orbit. The Earth’s moon is actually on a similar path, drifting away bit by bit from our planet’s orbit.
3The Atmospheric Pressure On Venus Is Intense
Another reason that Venus is considered so different and uninhabitable is that it has an extreme level of atmospheric pressure. The air and atmospheric pressure on Venus is several times more than that on Earth- around 75 times more intense. It’s actually comparable to the pressure found in the deep seas of Earth’s oceans. This is one of the reasons that it took several tries to make any valuable explorations of the planet’s surface. Most satellites or spacecraft were crushed by the planet’s extreme pressure within hours or days of arriving on Venus.
The actual measurements of Venus’ atmospheric pressure reach around 1300 pounds of pressure per square inch. This, combined with the extremely high temperatures, has made it very difficult for satellites and probes to get close to the planet’s surface. Why is this the case? Scientists believe that there are many things at play in the atmosphere of Venus. First of all, there is no life on Venus to release oxygen and help to absorb any of the carbon dioxides in the atmosphere. That, along with the lack of hydrogen, no ozone layer, and intense case of the greenhouse effect, means that the density and pressure are all contained within the small planet’s atmosphere.
Essentially, it’s like having an atmosphere crammed full of much more gasses than Earth’s atmosphere. Venus also has less gravity and more heat, which just contributes to more and more gasses developing and adding to the density and extremely high pressure of the atmosphere.
2What Kind of Explorations Has Been Made on Venus?
Venus was definitely one of the first planets that humankind was able to pinpoint in the sky, because of its extreme brightness. However, it took a little while longer for humans to get a closer look and learn more about the planet. Once the telescope was invented, our exploration of Venus was truly able to begin. Galileo was one of the first astronomers to make any kind of detailed observations about the planet we now know as Venus.
He pointed out that Venus went through phases, similar to the Moon. However, it took decades before anyone was able to get a glimpse below the thick layers of clouds that enshrouded the planet. Most astronomers actually believed that the clouds were hiding a lush rainforest and a world similar to Earth. This was due to the fact that the planet was so close to Earth, similar in size, and close enough to the Sun to foster life. They assumed, at first, that the clouds were made of vapor- which indicated the presence of water. However, once space exploration of Venus was achieved, they realized that this was far from the truth.
The Mariner 2, one of NASA’s spacecraft, flew past Venus for the first time in 1962. A handful of Russian spacecraft arrived soon after and attempted to land on the surface of the planet. However, it only took a couple of hours for them to be destroyed by the heat and pressure. The first spacecraft to actually get a good look at the surface of the planet was NASA’s Magellan. The radar on Magellan finally revealed plenty of volcanoes and a relatively smooth surface.
1Venus Has Changed a Lot Over the Years
Although Venus is now uninhabitable and quite volatile, scientists believe that it wasn’t always that way. Planets are extremely old objects, and they are able to change significantly over the years. Astronomers believe that Venus has changed and that it may have been inhabitable and temperate in the past. In fact, NASA has claimed that Venus probably had shallow oceans and habitable temperatures for millions of years. They were able to discover this possibility by examining models of climate change, theorizing that the two similar planets simply took very different paths in their evolution.
NASA’s Pioneer mission left astronomers with the belief that Venus once had its very own ocean, similarly to Earth. However, because of the planet’s proximity to the Sun, as well as its powerful greenhouse effect, Venus’ ocean was eventually evaporated along with any other trace of water. As the water evaporated and carbon dioxide built up, Venus became the massive trap of heat and pressure that it is today.
Another factor that allowed Venus to heat up so quickly was its slow rotation rate. Each surface is exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, unlike Earth which rotates pretty quickly. This forced water to evaporate more quickly and the surface to dry out. This also forced the creation of thick clouds, which now shield Venus’ surface from most of the sunlight that comes in its direction.
These kinds of hypotheses about Venus have been widely used in fictional representations of the planet. Many people even consider Venus to be Earth, just a while ahead in the evolutionary cycle.
Venus is one intriguing planet, that’s for sure. Throughout the years, scientists and astronomers have discovered more and more interesting facts about the “Morning Star” planet. As the only planet named after a female figure and the only planet in our solar system that is similar to Earth, Venus is quite unique. It took a while for explorers to get a good look at the surface of Venus, but the planet has been a significant focus of space exploration over the years. Because it is closest to Earth, the approach in spacecraft seemed to be the most manageable and logical to undertake. This was especially true during the beginnings of space travel and space discovery.
There’s a reason that space exploration is one of the most expensive and funded industries in the world. Learning more about the universe around us and our small part in it is one of the most tempting pursuits of knowledge. Humankind’s capabilities for space exploration have improved significantly in recent years. However, the industry is still relatively young. The first man on the moon only stepped foot there in 1969. That’s not all that long ago! Who knows what kind of incredible developments could be made in the space industry within the next few years or even the next few decades. The space exploration industry is certainly one industry that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Venus is one great example of the things humans have been able to discover over the years. What was once believed to be two stars actually turned out to be one quite unique planet in the end.