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10 Things You Should Know About Venus

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Venus whose Greek equivalent was Aphrodite was the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It probably got its name from being the brightest object in the sky except for the Sun and the Moon. Venus has always been considered a feminine planet, with many legends and stories concerning its inhabitants. Even one modern doctor says that women are from Venus.

1. Venus is the second planet from the Sun

Digital Illustration of Venus
Photodisc/ Photodisc/ Getty Images
Venus orbits 108,200,000 km (0.72 AU) from the Sun. Its path carries it around the Sun between Mercury and the Earth.

2. Venus is the sixth largest planet

Pictures of Venus - Akna Mountains
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Venus has a diameter of 12,103.6 km and a mass of 4.869e24 kg, 95% of Earth's size.

3. Venus has been called Earth’s sister planet

Pictures of Venus - Arachnoids
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
It’s fairly close in size (95%), has a similar density and chemical composition, and has few craters, indicating a similar young age. This led many to believe that there might even be life hidden under the thick layer of clouds. This has since been proven to be impossible.

4. Earth and Venus are similar in density and chemical compositions

Pictures of Venus - Bright Plains
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Both have relatively young surfaces, with Venus appearing to have been completely resurfaced 300 to 500 million years ago.

5. At one time, Venus was thought to be two separate bodies

Pictures of Venus - Corona
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Venus was known as the morning star (Eosphorus) and the evening star (Hesperus).

6. On the surface of Venus, the atmospheric pressure is 90 atmospheres.

Pictures of Venus - Coronas in Fortuna
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Venus' atmosphere is composed mostly of carbon dioxide. The surface of the planet is obscured by several layers of clouds many kilometers thick composed of sulfuric acid. This creates a greenhouse effect that brings Venus' surface temperature to over 740 K.

7. Venus' rotation is 243 Earth days and its orbit is 225 days

Pictures of Venus - Crater Perspective
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Venus's day is longer than its year! Besides that, it rotates retrograde, or "backwards," spinning in the opposite direction of its orbit around the Sun. From its surface, the Sun would seem to rise in the west and set in the east.

8. Features on Venus are named for accomplished women

Pictures of Venus - Crater with Streak
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Venus' features have received names of women from all of Earth's cultures, including Atalanta Planitia, Guinevere Planitia, Lavinia Planitia, Ishtar Terra, Aphrodite Terra, and Lakshmi Planum among others.

9. There are no known satellites of Venus

Venus Globe - 10 Things You Should Know About Venus
NASA
Between the 1670s and the 1770s, there were several observations of what appeared to be a satellite approximately 1/4 the size of Venus. Many theories exist to explain these sightings as well as one in 1892 by E. E. Barnard, including optical illusions, stars, and even a tenth planet, but recent observations have not revealed any satellite.

10. Venus has been visited by several other spacecraft

Pictures of Venus - Twin Summit
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Past probes to visit Venus included Mariner 2, Pioneer Venus Orbiter & Pioneer Venus Multiprobe (Pioneer 12 & 13), and Magellan while another mission, called Venus Express, is in the works by the European Space Agency.

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