||Missions to Venus
Featured Mission: Magellan
In the early 1990s, Magellan used powerful radar to penetrate the thick cloud layer and send back information that was used to map 98% of the planet.
Both Earth and Venus experience a 'greenhouse effect' that keeps things warm. But on Venus it is too hot. What can be done on Earth to keep our home from heating up too much?
Venus- The Hottest Planet
Venus is the second planet from our Sun. It is Earth's closest neighbor ? the second brightest object in our night sky. Only the moon is brighter.
Venus' dazzling beauty at night explains its name. It is named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Even though it is so close to Earth, Venus is very mysterious. The surface is hidden beneath hot, poisonous air made up mostly of carbon dioxide. Scientists must use radar to 'see' through Venus' clouds. Venus has no moon and no rings.
WHAT'S IT LIKE ON VENUS?
Hot, confusing and pretty much yucky. To get to the surface of Venus, you would have to pass through clouds of sulfuric acid, hurricane-force winds and lightning.
On the ground, it would look like a very hazy, overcast day on Earth. Instead of cooling things down, the clouds on Venus reflect sunlight and trap heat ? a lot like a greenhouse keeps plants warm. On Venus the 'greenhouse effect' is out of control. It can get up to almost 900?F (482?C). It gets hotter than Mercury. The air is thick and poisonous.
Venus' atmosphere is so heavy it would feel like you were deep in the ocean. Remember how your head feels squeezed at the bottom of a swimming pool? That is pressure. On Venus, the pressure is so strong it would crush you. Even tough metal spacecraft were smashed after a few hours on the surface of Venus.
This is a strange planet. Venus spins backwards so the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east. And because the planet rotates so sluggishly, a day on Venus is longer than it takes to go around the Sun. Imagine if we switched to Venusian clocks on Earth. A school day would last four months. Ugh.
Almost all the surface features of Venus are named for amazing Earth women. A volcanic crater is named for Sacajawea, the Native American who guided Lewis and Clark's exploration. A deep canyon is named for Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt.