Venus Essay

Venus Essay

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Venus, the second planet from the Sun, is the hottest world in the solar system. It is blanketed by a thick atmosphere that heats its surface like the inside of a greenhouse. But with a surface temperature of almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit (480 C), this place is no garden!
Other than its atmosphere, Venus is so similar to Earth that it is sometimes called Earth's sister planet. Its diameter and mass are almost identical to Earth's. Why, then, is it so hot?
The "greenhouse effect" on Venus is caused by its atmosphere. Energy from the Sun passes through the atmosphere to the planet's surface, where it is absorbed and reradiated at longer wavelengths (as heat). Venus' atmosphere traps these longer wavelengths so they cannot escape into space. The trapped heat builds up, so the planet grows hotter and hotter. The same thing happens in an automobile on a hot day. Sunlight comes through the windows and warms the inside of the car, but the heat is trapped.
Even though Venus' orbit brings it closer to Earth than any other planet, its blanket of clouds kept much of Venus a mystery. But space probes sent by the Soviet Union and the United States, as well as studies with ground-based radar, have allowed astronomers to "see" the surface of Venus for the first time. The first exploration of Venus by radar was in 1962. It revealed that Venus spins backward on its axis. If you could stand on the surface of Venus, and if you could see the Sun through the cloud cover, i...

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