Venus is often referred to as Earth’s twin sister planet because she is about the same size as the Earth. However, she is our “evil twin”. Named after the Roman god of love, she may be “Hot”, but she is mean and nasty. The atmosphere is heavy with carbon dioxide with surface atmospheric pressure is 90 times greater than Earth! With its thick sulfuric acid clouds and rain, Venus’ the strong winds and high pressure, it is a very inhospitable planet. Venus’ high temperatures are caused by her atmosphere of carbon dioxide, CO2, which created the runaway greenhouse effect.
Regardless of Venus’ nasty surface conditions, she is the brightest object in the sky and has the nickname of being the “evening star” or “morning star”. The brightness is from being so close to the sun and being covered in white and yellowish clouds that reflect the sunlight. The morning and evening aspect is due to the fact that Venus either rises in the morning just before the sun does or is trailing behind the sun and can be seen in the early evening right after sunset.
Venus was most likely hit by a large object early in its creation, this caused her to reverse the direction she spins and slowed down the speed of rotation.
- 1962: NASA’s Mariner 2 reveals the planet’s extreme surface temperatures and pressure.
- 1970: Venera 7, the first spacecraft to successfully land on another planet, the Soviet Union’s mission sends data back to earth from the surface.
- 1990: NASA’s Magellan spacecraft orbits Venus and maps 98 percent of Venus’ surface.
- 2005: Venus Express, launched by The European Space Agency, studies the atmosphere and surface.
- 2015: Akatsukiawn (“Dawn”), launched by Japan, is in orbit around Venus taking data.