Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Surface of Venus

Venus and Earth are often called twins because they are similar in size, mass, density, composition and gravity. However, the similarities end there.

Venus is the hottest world in the solar system. Although Venus is not the planet closest to the sun, its dense atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect that warms Earth.

Murky clouds shroud the secrets of Venus

The average temperature on Venus is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius). Temperature changes slightly traveling through the atmosphere, growing cooler farther away from the surface. Lead would melt on the surface of the planet, where the temperature is around 872 F (467 C).
Temperatures are cooler in the upper atmosphere, ranging from (minus 43 C) to (minus 173 C). Probes that scientists have landed there have survived only a few hours before being destroyed.

Lighting is a common feature of the Venusian surface

Venus has a hellish atmosphere as well, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid, and scientists have only detected trace amounts of water in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is heavier than that of any other planet, leading to a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth.

Although Venus and Earth are similar in size, someone standing on the ground on Venus would experience air about 90 times heavier than Earth's atmosphere; pressures are similar to diving 3,000 feet beneath the ocean. Ironically, the most Earth-like atmosphere in the solar system occurs 30 to 40 miles (50 to 60 kilometers) above the surface of Venus. Both oxygen and hydrogen rise above the heavier gas layer covering the ground, and the pressures are similar to our planet.
  • Carbon dioxide: 96 percent
  • Nitrogen: 3.5 percent
  • Carbon monoxide, argon, sulfur dioxide, and water vapor: less than 1 percent

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