While a lot of facts about Venus are known, its actual discoverer is unknown. Among ancient civilizations it was known as the morning star. Pythagoras was the first to realize that both the morning and evening star were the same entity.
Facts and Figures
Venus has a perihelion of 107,600,000 and the aphelion is 108,900,000. The mean is 108,000,000. The rotation is approximately 243 days with a revolution of 0.52 years. It has no satellites and has an average temperature of 459 degrees Celsius. In terms of size, Venus is about the same as Earth.
Surface and Geology
One of the most basic facts about Venus is its size is similar to
Earth. It is smaller by only 650 km. Its mass is also 80% that of Earth. However, Venus’ geological surface is very different. More than 75% of the surface is littered with volcanic plains. There are also several lobate plains in the area.
There are two large landmasses, one on the northern hemisphere and one at the equator’s south side. The northern land is Ishtar Terra. It is about the size of Australia and home to Maxwell Montes. It rises 11 km from the ground and is the highest mountain on Venus.
The southern landmass is called Aphrodite Terra. It is about the size of Latin America. It is characterized by fractures, fissures and numerous fault lines. Other interesting facts about Venus are the farra, which are flat topped volcanic surfaces.
These are about 60 km across and rise more than 1000 m high. There are also unusual surfaces called arachnoids and coronae. The former resemble spider webs and the latter circular in appearance.
The planet’s atmosphere is composed of 96% carbon dioxide. Other elements are nitrogen, sulfur oxide and argon. It also has elements of helium, neon, hydrogen fluoride and many others. The pressure is 90 times greater than that on Earth. This has resulted in surface temperatures of over 560 Celsius (over 850 F).
One of the most puzzling facts about Venus is that it is much hotter than Mercury, this despite being farther away from the Sun. The prevailing theory is that originally it had an Earth like atmosphere. For reasons unknown the water dissipated and a greenhouse effect occurred.
This led to the increase in gases in the atmosphere. Studies have also shown that the atmosphere on the planet does not change regardless of whether it is day or night. Wind movement is slow but it carries a lot of force.
This is due to the amount of gas and dust in the atmosphere. However there are 300 kph winds that traverse the planet every six Earth days or so.
The cloud cover is permanent, so the surface is not well illuminated. If the gases were taken out, Venus would look very much like the Earth.
A lot of the basic facts about Venus were determined during the days of the Cold War as the US and Russia sent orbiters around it. Today research is still ongoing although it is done in a more cooperative manner among nations.