10 Facts About Venus We Earthlings Take For Granted

September 25, 2015 | Sarah Tse

Size comparison of Venus (left) and Earth (right).
Photo credit: They could almost be twins! Except for Venus’s complete lack of water and caustic atmosphere.

Venus is sometimes referred to as Earth’s sister planet, because it is the closest in size and mass out of all the planets in the solar system. But even if we could survive on the second planet from the sun, there are a few key differences that would give us serious culture shock.


1)    No Oxygen

This one’s quite obvious, but you may be surprised at just how hellish Venus can be. Its atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and clouds of sulfuric acid, with only trace amounts of water. Its atmospheric composition gives Venus the strongest greenhouse effect of any planet in our solar system.


2)    No Seasons

The planet doesn’t tilt on an axis relative to its orbit, which means it has no seasons. Just year round, balmy temperatures of 480 degrees Celsius, or 900 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are even hotter than Mercury’s, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.


3)    A Backward Sunrise

Forget about using the sun to navigate—on Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. This is because the planet rotates counterclockwise, while every other planet in the solar system rotates clockwise. Astronomers theorize that its retrograde rotation resulted from a collision with an asteroid during the early days of the solar system.


SEE ALSO: The Mysteries of Saturn, Both Solved and Unsolved


4)    No Moon

Venus doesn’t have any moons, which astronomers find surprising considering that the early solar system was a hectic place with plenty of materials that could have coalesced into a moon. There are theories that Venus once had a moon, but it slowly drifted away, no doubt in flight from its unbearable host.


5)    A 3150-Hour Day

It takes 243 Earth days for Venus to rotate once on its axis, but only 225 Earth days to orbit around the sun. Normally that would make a Venusian day outlast its year, but its counterclockwise rotation shortens the time between sunrises to 117 Earth days. Still, pulling an all-nighter would be nigh impossible.


6)    Compasses Don’t Work

Because it orbits so slowly, Venus can’t generate a magnetic field like Earth does. The heat from Venus’s core that would normally drive a magnetic field instead heats the planet’s crust. So devices, like compasses, that rely on the Earth’s magnetic field would not function on Venus.


7)    No Natural Protection from Cosmic Radiation

Magnetic fields are important for more than navigation. The Earth’s strong magnetic field shields us from harmful radiation by preventing our protective ozone layer from being stripped away. Without a magnetic field, any denizens of Venus would be extremely vulnerable to cosmic radiation.


If you thought these facts were amazing, check out our mind-blowing facts about Saturn.


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