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What deadly Venus can tell us about life on other worlds

Even though Venus and Earth are so-called sister planets, they're as different as heaven and hell. Earth is a natural paradise where life has persevered under its azure skies despite multiple mass extinctions. On the other ...

How much of Venus's atmosphere is coming from volcanoes?

There's a lot we don't know about the planet nearest to us. Venus is shrouded in clouds, making speculation about what's happening on its surface a parlor game for many planetary scientists for decades. But one idea that ...

Study finds the West is best to spot UFOs

In July of 2023, retired commander in the U.S. Navy David Fravor testified to the House Oversight Committee about a mysterious, Tic Tac-shaped object that he and three others observed over the Pacific Ocean in 2004. The congressional ...

Why Venus died

Venus is only slightly smaller than the Earth, and so has enjoyed billions of years of a warm heart. But for this planet, sometimes called Earth's sister, that heat has betrayed it. That planet is now wrapped in suffocating ...

We're heading for Venus: ESA approves EnVision

ESA's next mission to Venus was officially "adopted" today by the Agency's Science Program Committee. EnVision will study Venus from its inner core to its outer atmosphere, giving important new insight into the planet's history, ...

Gravitational wave, Venus missions get European green light

The European Space Agency gave the green light to two missions on Thursday, one to detect ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves and another to probe the secrets of Earth's closest neighboring planet Venus.

NASA selects a sample return mission to Venus

In Dante Alighieri's epic poem The Divine Comedy, the famous words "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" adorn the gates of hell. Interestingly enough, Dante's vision of hell is an apt description of what conditions are like ...

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Venus is the second-closest planet to the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6. Because Venus is an inferior planet from Earth, it never appears to venture far from the Sun: its elongation reaches a maximum of 47.8°. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it is often called the Morning Star or the Evening Star.

Classified as a terrestrial planet, it is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because they are similar in size, gravity, and bulk composition. Venus is covered with an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. Venus has the densest atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide, as it has no carbon cycle to lock carbon back into rocks and surface features, nor organic life to absorb it in biomass. A younger Venus is believed to have possessed Earth-like oceans, but these totally evaporated as the temperature rose, leaving a dusty dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks. The water has most likely dissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of the Earth.

Venus' surface was a subject of speculation until some of its secrets were revealed by planetary science in the twentieth century. It was finally mapped in detail by Project Magellan in 1990–91. The ground shows evidence of extensive volcanism, and the sulfur in the atmosphere may indicate that there have been some recent eruptions. However, it is an enigma why no evidence of lava flow accompanies any of the visible caldera. There are a low number of impact craters, demonstrating that the surface is relatively young, approximately half a billion years old. There is no evidence for plate tectonics, possibly because its crust is too strong to subduct without water to make it less viscous. Instead, Venus may lose its internal heat in periodic massive resurfacing events.

The adjective Venusian is commonly used for items related to Venus, though the Latin adjective is the rarely used Venerean; the archaic Cytherean is still occasionally encountered. Venus is the only planet in the Solar System named after a female figure,[a] although three dwarf planets – Ceres, Eris and Haumea – along with hundreds of the first discovered asteroids also have feminine names.

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