Although venus doesn’t get as much attention as planets like mars in the solar system, it is the most unique of all the planets. For years, scientists have been puzzled by this ancient planet and its oddities. It still exhibits several characteristics that astronomers have been been trying to figure out for years.
Galileo Galilei was the first person to point a telescope at venus in 1610. Named after the Roman goddess of love, it is the second-brightest natural object after the moon.
With these mind blowing facts, learn why venus is so much like earth but yet different and how it manages to be the odd one out in the solar system.
1. Earth’s Evil Twin
Venus is often called earth’s evil twin because of how similar they are in mass, composition, size, and proximity to the sun. Venus is only slightly smaller than earth, containing about 81% of its mass. However, it has no known moon unlike earth which has one.
2. It Snows Metal On Venus
Radar images of the surface of venus have shown that certain high elevation areas are highly reflective. At first, scientists suggested that this was as a result of loose soil and weathering but none of these explanations were tenable. A more plausible theory explains that the lowlands of venus contain minerals that evaporate due to the intense heat. These vaporised minerals then precipitate at cooler, higher altitudes in the form of bismuth and lead sulfides.
3. High Atmospheric Pressure
The atmospheric pressure of venus is so high that whenever astronomers sent a spacecraft to venus, it got damaged. In order for a spacecraft to survive on venus, it requires a strong shield. This is because venus’s atmosphere largely comprises carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid. On top of that, venus is the hottest planet with a sweltering temperature of 470 degree celsius thanks to the high quantity of carbon dioxide and acidic clouds.
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4. Hellish Planet
Another reason why venus is called earth’s twin is because it was once earth-like. Scientists even believe it may have had oceans in liquid form billions of years ago. However, something went wrong and it transformed into the hellish planet that it is today. It is thought that venus is an ideal example of a runaway greenhouse effect.
In its early days, the planet trapped so much heat from the sun that its oceans began to evaporate until they boiled away completely. Eventually, water vapour would escape from the venusian atmosphere, leaving a high concentration of carbon dioxide behind. The end result is the hellish planet we now know venus to be.
5. A Strange Planet
For centuries, there have been several reports of a glow on the unilluminated side of venus. This glow has remained a mystery because no one knows why it really appears or if it actually exists. While some think it may be an illusion where the brain causes an individual to perceive a small but very bright crescent as a complete circle, others suggest it could be due to lightning activity in the venusian atmosphere. None of the spacecraft sent to venus have been able to detect this glow. Yet, reports of this glow date back to as far as 1643 and many credible astronomers still witness it till this day.
6. The Only Planet That Rotates In A Clockwise Direction
Another puzzling fact about venus is that it rotates backwards in respect to the rest of the planets in the solar system. Its rotation is also the slowest; a day on venus is about 243 earth days. Scientists are still trying to figure out why venus rotates in this manner.
7. It May Have Life
Due to its extreme conditions, venus may seem like one of the last planet to have any form of life in it. However, there’s some possibility that it is home to some form of biological life. The upper atmosphere of venus is a lot like earth due to its lower temperature and pressure when compared to other parts of the planet. Given the fact that venus may have once contained liquid water, microbial life may have arose there. But with the transformation of the planet into what it is today, that life may have adapted to the changing conditions and may still exist today in venus’ upper atmosphere. One clue of this is the presence of carbonyl sulphide which mostly occurs in the presence of life. Though it could occur due to volcanism.
Scientists believe venus can one day be made earth-like through a process called terraforming, hence it may one day become earth’s true twin and be inhabited by humans.