What Is Venus?
Venus is one of the most beautiful objects in the sky and that is why it was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Venus is the second planet from the sun and is our closest neighbor planet in the solar system (about 40 million km away in its closest position from Earth). Venus was nicknamed Earthís twin because their sizes are alike, but they have very different characteristics.
Similarities Between Earth And Venus
Some of the similarities are:
Even though Earth and Venus are similar in size, there are a lot of differences such as:
Venusís surface temperature is about 900į F and Earthís surface temperature is only around 100į F. Venusís atmosphere reflects sunlight that hits it and heat from the Sun is trapped. This is like a car on a hot day because a car gets hot if no one is there to open a window. The heat in the car gets trapped which is a greenhouse effect. Earth has a greenhouse effect, like Venus but the dirty air in our atmosphere is probably the biggest reason why we have a greenhouse effect. We are a little worried about the increasing temperatures though because the temperature may get too hot on Earth for us to live someday. This is like Venusís greenhouse effeect because Venusís greenhouse effect has already made Venus very hot.
Venusís air is mostly made up of carbon dioxide and Earthís air is mostly made up of nitrogen and oxygen, so we can not live there. Plants could not either because it is too hot for plants.
Venus spins clockwise around its axis and Earth spins counter clockwise. That means the sun would rise in the west on Venus.
Venus spins slower than it goes around the sun, making its day longer than its year. A year is when a planet travels around the sun and a day is when a planet spins just once. Venusís year is 225 Earth days and Venusís day is 243 Earth days.
Venus does not have a moon.
Is It Impossible To Have Life On Venus?
It is not possible for life to exist on Venus because of its hot surface temperatures and carbon dioxide atmosphere. Still, we are interested to learn more about Venus because it is our neighbor planet. Since the early 1960ís Russian and American space program have launched several missions to Venus. Here are some of the missions:
In 1962 Mariner 2 of the United States flew past Venus. Flying 22,000 miles above Venus, Mariner 2 measured the planetís temperature. The results not only corrected the earlier radar readings, but added to them. Before Mariner 2 was launched scientists thought Venus was 625į F and now they know Venus is really 800į F to 900į F.
In 1967 The Soviet Unionís Venera 4 dropped a capsule that found information on Venusís dense atmosphere and Venera 4 returned the data by using radar.
Also in 1967 Mariner 5 of the United States explored Venus. The spacecraft passed 4,000 kilometers from Venus. Mariner 5ís mission was to measure Venusís atmosphere and invisible light of Venus.
In 1970 Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land on Venus. It was sent to find information on Venusís atmosphere and it returned the data by using radar.
Venera 9 and 10
In 1975 Venera 9 and 10 arrived at Venus. They were an orbiter/lander mission. Their mission was to observe the cloud tops of Venus and conduct solar wind experiments which means to conduct experiments on clouds of protons. The mission was accomplished, but Venera 9 and 10 were burned after sending the information back to earth.
Pioneer 12 started orbiting Venus in 1978. It returned global cloud, atmosphere, and radar maps of 93 percent of the planetís surface. It was the first spacecraft to use radar to map Venusís surface. Radar are radio waves map the shapes of things.
Vega 1 and 2
Vega 1 and 2 were launched in 1984. Vega 1 and 2 were based on the previous Venera 9 and 10 missions. Vega 1 and 2 returned data on the atmosphere of Venus and its soil composition by radar.
Finally in 1989 the Magellan space probe was launched from a space shuttle. Magellanís mission was to create a detailed map of Venusís land. In order to make the map, radar waves were sent from Magellan and bounced off the planet like fish detectors. Fish detectors are like radar because the fish detector tells you where the fish are by radar. Radar detectors and radar mapers work by bouncing radar waves off of something and they can find if there is something moving or if there is a bump somewhere by the time the radar is back. Magellanís mission was such a huge success that it actually mapped 98 percent of the planet. Before Magellan 20, spacecraft that attempted to map Venus failed.
It is very interesting to learn about our neighbor planet Venus. We now know a great deal about Venus because of these successful space programs. Although it is probably not possible for us to visit Venus in the future, we may always observe this beautiful planet in the evening sky.