Venus — the Most Unusual Planet in the Solar System

by Carson
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Venus

Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is very strange. Therefore, what are the unique features of the planet that makes it stand out from the others? Let’s find out!

Basic Information

Firstly, we need to mention its basic properties before anything else. It is 12,104 kilometers wide, just a bit smaller than Earth. Its mass is about 81.4% that of Earth, with its gravitational acceleration being about 0.904g. (NASA Solar System Exploration, n.d.).

Moreover, it is 0.723 astronomical units from the Sun and orbits it once every 225 days. Surprisingly, the “year” on Venus is shorter than its “day”, in which the planet completes a rotation once every 243 days.

Venus’s orbital and rotational periods
Image Credit: Canva

Venus’s Atmosphere

As you know, it is a rocky planet, and we can land on it. However, it’s not that easy. According to space.com and NASA, Venus’s atmosphere is more than 90 times thicker than Earth’s. If we were standing at the surface, it would be equivalent to being from 1,000 meters to a mile underwater!

What’s more, the atmosphere is what makes the planet hellish. Firstly, it consists of more than 96% of carbon dioxide, meaning that it has a strong greenhouse effect. That raises the planet’s temperature to 471 Celsius, hotter than the planet closest to the Sun, Mercury.

Other than the pressure and hot temperature, the planet also has sulfuric acid clouds (H2SO4). That means acidic rains are present, and you’ll be unfortunate if that hits you.

Furthermore, the planet has extreme winds. According to space.com, the wind speeds reach 360 kilometers per hour. It is even faster than some of the strongest hurricanes in the world! Additionally, thick clouds block spacecraft’s view while orbiting the planet, so we need to use other wavelengths to detect the Venusian terrain.

Statistics about Venus’s atmosphere
Image Credit: Canva

Venus Rotates Backward

Now, let’s talk about some additional features that will make you think Venus is a special planet to inspect.

Firstly, the planet’s rotation has become peculiar again. In fact, the planet rotates clockwise, which is backward compared to other planets in the Solar System.

According to SciShow Space, there are a few hypotheses for the fact. One of them is that Venus slowed down and somehow rotated backward. Another one is that two similarly-sized objects crashed into each other but somehow merged to form one planet.

Venus Is Moonless

Mercury and Venus are the closest planets to the Sun, so their moons are likely to be kicked out, right? Well, this is not necessarily the case for the brightest planet in the night sky. Venus is Earth-sized and should have a moon or two. Moreover, if it has suffered an impact, why didn’t the fragments become its moon, just like Earth’s Moon?

We need to look at Earth’s Moon to solve that problem. Why is it getting further away from Earth? It’s because Earth’s rotation is faster than the Moon’s orbital period.

Take a look at Venus’s slow rotation. Any moons that once surrounded the planet will slam onto it because the satellite will get closer every year. Therefore, even if Venus may possess a moon billions of years ago, it’s long gone.

It Has Large Craters

Last but not least, only larger craters are present on Venus. In fact, all asteroids that hit the planet is larger than 1.5 kilometers across. Does it mean that the planet is “immune” to tiny space rocks? Well, it’s partially correct.

What prevents small objects from leaving a trace on Venus is its thick atmosphere. Remember that it is 92 times thicker than Earth’s! That way, the atmosphere can burn up asteroids that are hundreds of meters wide.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve discussed the fundamental information about Venus and its additional, unique features. However, only 700 words are not enough to describe the entire planet. Therefore, check out the resources that we used in this writing.

References and Credits

  1. (2019, December 19). In Depth | Venus – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/venus/in-depth/
  2. (n.d.). By the Numbers | Venus – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/venus/by-the-numbers/
  3. Charles Q. Choi. (2020, January 16). Venus: The hot, hellish & volcanic planet | Space. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.space.com/44-venus-second-planet-from-the-sun-brightest-planet-in-solar-system.html
  4. (2020, November 25). Venus Fact Sheet – the NSSDCANASA. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/venusfact.html
  5. (2018, October 18). Venus’ Atmosphere: Composition, Climate and Weather | Space. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.space.com/18527-venus-atmosphere.html
  6. SciShow Space. (2018, July 17). Why Does Venus Spin Backwards? – YouTube. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch/vEiSZaRnfIg
  7. (2017, January 20). This is Why Mercury and Venus are Moonless | by Sandhya Ramesh | TeamIndus Blog – Medium. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://medium.com/teamindus/this-is-why-mercury-and-venus-are-moonless-d0733abb932e

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