Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

Named after the Roman Goddess of Beauty and Love, Venus is the second planet from the sun in our solar system. Although it is second from the sun, it is the hottest planet is the solar system. Mercury being closest to the sun is not hottest. The simplest answer to this is ‘due to the greenhouse effect’.

Four Terrestrial Planets of our Solar System
Image Source: From an article on Sciencemag.org

Mercury’s Atmosphere

Compared to Venus, the atmosphere of mercury is really thin. It is so thinner, that the value atmospheric pressure on its surface is not even 1 Pascal. It constitutes atomic oxygen, atomic hydrogen, helium, sodium, magnesium, etc. Due to lack of proper atmosphere, it can’t trap heat from the sun through the greenhouse effect and thus loses all of its heat.

That is why the temperature of its side facing the sun directly is about 449°C (772 K) whereas the temperature of the side facing away from the sun s about -170°C (103 K).

Venus’ Atmosphere

Venus is the third brightest object (after sun and moon), which is visible to naked eyes in the morning and evening sky. But it is beautiful only from a distance. The actual environment of Venus is very inhospitable. The atmosphere consists mostly of Carbon dioxide (about 96 %), about 3.5 % of nitrogen, the rest is a little number of gases like sulfur dioxide, argon, carbon monoxide, etc.

Due to the presence of a huge amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), the heat that enters the planet can’t escape completely. It acts like a jacket that we wear during winter so that the heat of the body can’t completely escape. This is the main reason why Venus is the hottest plant with a mean surface temperature of about 464°C (737 K). Also, the atmosphere of Venus is much denser than that of Earth. The average atmospheric pressure on the Venusians’ surface is about 93 times more than that on Earth. There are clouds of sulfuric acid and sulfur dioxide which are very good in reflecting light. That is why it shines so brightly. It might appear at first that acid rain occurs Venus surface but that is not the case. Even if clouds rain acid, it gets evaporated before reaching the surface.

Other Strange Features of Venus

Venus is about 108 million km away from the sun. Its orbit is almost circular (the eccentricity of Venus’ orbit is about 0.0067). The time period of its revolution around the sun is 225 Earth’s day but the time period of its rotation on its axis is about 243 Earth’s day, i.e., Venuses one day is longer than its year. Also, it rotates in the opposite direction than the earth.

Earth and Venus are often called twins because of their similar size, mass, density, composition, and gravity. The core of Venus is made of Iron and the mantle is made of Rock. Due to its slow rotation rate and lack of convection in the core, the magnetic field of Venus is much weaker than that of Earth.

Even the magnetic field present on Venus is supposed to be induced from the interaction of the ionosphere and solar wind rather than by internal dynamo. Due to a weak magnetic field, it has very less protection against cosmic radiation. The surface of Venus has thousands of volcanoes, some of which are still active today. Volcanic eruptions might be the reason for the presence of sulfur oxides and sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

Venusians’ Surface
The image was taken by Russian Venera 13 Spacecraft

Conclusion

Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system majorly due to the strong greenhouse effect. Furthermore, there are few other reasons we mentioned in the text. Few strange features of Venus are discussed in the text. Although it is named after the goddess of Beauty, it is not a beautiful place. That is why the more appropriate name for it could be Lucifer(became known as the name of Satan). It is its name in Latin or Shukra (a councilor and master of Asurs), which is its name in India.

If you are interested in Astronomy, you should also check this out: DEVELOPING “SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES” AND MAKING MARS A LIVEABLE PLACE

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