Do you know which is the hottest planet in the solar system? Did you know that Mercury is not the hottest planet as a lot of people think?
That is exactly what we are coming here through this video to inform you with. As Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, a lot of people think that it is the hottest planet in the solar system. However, this is not the case. Venus, which is the second planet from the Sun, is actually the hottest planet. Now you might be asking yourself why Venus would be hotter than Mercury even though it is not close to the sun as Mercury is. Let’s find out the reason!
Table of Contents
- Why is Venus the Hottest Planet and not Mercury?
- Introduction to Venus
- Surface and Structure
- Atmosphere and Temperature
- Orbit and Rotation
- Discovery and Exploration
- Interesting Facts about Venus
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Venus the Hottest Planet and not Mercury?
Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system in spite of the fact that it is not the closest planet to the Sun. Why? Because Venus has an atmosphere, or a layer of gas surrounding the planet, that is very thick. This thick atmosphere traps heat on the planet and prevents it from escaping back into space. This process is called the “greenhouse effect,” and it makes the surface of Venus hotter than that of Mercury and those of all other planets in the solar system.
Introduction to Venus
Venus is one of the eight planets that orbit the Sun in our Solar System. It is the second planet from the Sun, and Earth’s nearest neighbour. The average distance from the Sun to Venus is about 67 million miles (108 million kilometres). Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, and the brightest planet in the sky when viewed from Earth.
Surface and Structure
Venus is a terrestrial planet. It is solid and rocky. Most of Venus’s surface consists of plains. Mountains and hills are rare. Lava flows cover much of the surface. There are a lot of large volcanoes on Venus. One of the largest volcanoes on Venus is called “Sif Mons.” In fact, Venus has many active volcanoes on its surface to this day. In addition, scientists believe that Venus has layers like those of Earth. The layers are mainly a metal core, a rocky middle, and a crust.
Venus is about the same size and weight as Earth, but it is slightly smaller than Earth. Its diameter is about 12,100 kilometres. It is the second largest among terrestrial planets, after Earth, and the sixth largest among all planets in the solar system.
Venus is nearly three times bigger than Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system. On the other hand, it is nearly 11.8 times smaller than Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system. Around 1400 planets the size of Venus together could fit the size of Jupiter. Compared to Mars, Venus is nearly two times bigger.
Atmosphere and Temperature
Venus is surrounded by a thick and heavy atmosphere made of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. There are also thick clouds of sulphuric acid covering the planet. The gases and clouds trap heat and keep Venus hot. The temperature near Venus’ surface is about 867° F (464° C). It is hot enough to melt lead. Moreover, the thick and dense atmosphere causes very high pressure. The pressure on Venus is 92 times the pressure on Earth, which is enough to crush many things.
Scientists believe that the atmosphere of Venus could have been like that of Earth billions of years ago. There may also have been plenty of water on the surface of Venus. But after billions of years, the evaporation of water caused a greenhouse effect, which made lots of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.
Orbit and Rotation
Venus has two types of motion: orbit around the Sun, and spin around its centre. It takes Venus 225 Earth days to complete an orbit around the Sun, so a year on Venus lasts 225 Earth days. The orbit of Venus is not elliptical like that of other planets, but it is nearly circular. Thus, when Venus and Earth are on the same side of the Sun and Venus is between the Sun and Earth, Venus makes the closest approach to Earth. The average distance between Venus and Earth in this situation is around 41 million kilometres. This is the closest a planet can get to Earth of all other planets.
While orbiting the Sun, Venus rotates, or spins, about its centre. However, it rotates in the opposite direction of most planets. This is called a retrograde rotation. In addition, Venus spins very slowly. It is actually the planet with the slowest rotation of any other planet. It completes one rotation in 243 Earth days, which makes a day on Venus last 243 days. This makes the day on Venus longer than the year.
You may wonder why Venus rotates backwards!
Well, scientists are still trying to find an explanation for this. A group of scientists have suggested that, at first, Venus had been spinning in the same direction as other planets. Now, it is still spinning in the same direction, but it has flipped its axis 180 degrees since a while. This means that it spins in the same direction but upside down. So, looking at Venus from Earth or other planets makes the spin seem to be backward.
Scientists also suggest that the pull by the gravity of the Sun on the dense atmosphere of Venus could have caused strong atmospheric tides. Such tides, along with friction between Venus’ mantle and core, could have caused the flip in the first place.
Other scientists believe that Venus may not have flipped at all. Instead, they suggest that its rotation slowed to a standstill, and then it reversed direction.
In the end, it is agreed that Venus’ axis could have shifted to many different positions throughout the planet’s evolution, whether it has flipped or not.
Discovery and Exploration
People have known Venus since ancient times because it can be seen easily from Earth without a telescope. In addition, there are more than 20 unmanned spacecraft that have visited the Venus, including:
- In 1962, the American spacecraft “Mariner 2” passed by Venus, and it was the first spacecraft to fly near another planet.
- In 1970, the Soviet Union’s spacecraft “Venera 7” landed on Venus, and it was the first spacecraft to successfully land on another planet.
- In the 1990s, the American spacecraft “Magellan” mapped Venus’ surface in great detail.
- In 2005, the European Space Agency sent a craft to study Venus’ atmosphere.
The planet Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, who is known as Aphrodite in Greek mythology. Ancient people believed that this goddess shined the brightest. So, planet Venus was named after this goddess because it appears so bright in Earth’s night sky.
It is hard to know the true colour of Venus and its surface because of the dense atmosphere and the thick clouds that surround it. The clouds are so thick that light cannot even go through them to light up the surface. This means that if you were to stand on the surface of Venus, it would be totally dark.
But when we look at Venus with the naked eye, it looks very bright with white and yellow colours. However, the pictures that scientists have gathered shows that the surface of Venus has brown and red rocks and dust. So, we can say that Venus is white and yellow with a reddish and brown surface.
20 Interesting Facts about Venus
- Venus can almost always be seen with the naked eye without using binoculars or telescopes.
- Venus is so bright that it is actually the second brightest object in our night sky, after the moon.
- Venus reflects 70% of all the sunlight it receives, and this is the reason why it shines so bright.
- Venus is sometimes called Earth’s sister planet because they share almost the similar size, mass, closeness to the Sun, and gravity.
- A space journey from Earth to Venus takes 6 months long.
- Any spacecraft sent to Venus only survives for around an hour because it is too hot there.
- On Venus, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east because of its retrograde rotation.
- While the Sun rises and sets once each day on Earth, it rises once every 117 days on Venus. This means that the Sun rises only twice each Venusian year.
- It takes sunlight 6 minutes to reach Venus.
- Scientists believe that Venus once had large amounts of water, but it boiled away because of the high temperatures.
- Venus is the planet that has the largest number of volcanoes among all the planets in the solar system. It has more than 1600 volcanoes, and many of them are active to this day.
- Ancient people thought that Venus was two different objects in the sky: The Morning Star, and the Evening Star. They also thought the same about the planet Mercury.
- Venus and Mercury are the only planets in the Solar System that do not have a moon.
- Venus does not have any rings, and because it rotates very slowly, its magnetosphere is also very weak.
- The clouds on Venus are yellowish in colour. This is because they are not formed from water vapor like the ones on Earth, but they are rather formed from a poison called sulfuric acid.
- Although Venus has many clouds, it is too hot there to rain.
- Some of the Volcanoes on Venus appear to be squashed from above. For that reason, they have been named “pancake volcanoes.” Some of the craters look like big spiders, and they are named “Arachnoids.”
- If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 91 pounds on Venus.
- Venus is the only planet that is named after a female deity.
- The symbol for Venus is actually the world’s symbol for the female gender.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Hottest Planet
Can Venus Support Life?
Although Venus is quite similar to Earth, it cannot support life. Venus is a very hostile planet and there is no evidence of water on Venus. The surface area of Venus is extremely hot, and its atmosphere is very thick, meaning the air pressure on Venus’ surface is very high. These conditions would make life on Venus impossible.
What is a terrestrial planet?
The planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are known as terrestrial planets or telluric planet because they have a rocky surface like Earth’s terra firma. Terra firma is Latin for “solid earth”. Terrestrial planets are composed mostly of silicate rocks or metals, and they have a solid surface. This distinguishes them from gas giants, which are composed of gases. The terrestrial planets are the four innermost planets in the solar system. Each of the terrestrial planets has a central core made mostly of iron and the layer above the core is called the mantle. The terrestrial planets are also sometimes referred to as the rocky planets and they are also known for having little or no moons.
What was the first planet explored by spacecraft?
Venus was the first planet explored by a spacecraft and was studied intensely early in the history of space exploration. Venus was also the first planet whose surface was reached by a spacecraft from Earth. The intense heat means spacecrafts that have landed on Venus have only survived for a couple of hours. The Soviet Union’s Venera 3 was the first man-made craft to land on Venus in 1966.
Where does the Sun rise on Venus?
As already discussed, Venus rotates backward on its axis compared to most planets in our solar system. This means the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East, opposite of what we see on Earth, where the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
How similar is the Earth and Venus?
Venus is often called the “Earth’s twin” because the two planets are so similar in size and structure. However, the differences lie in Venus’ and the Earth’s conditions. Venus has extreme surface heat and a dense, toxic atmosphere, making it impossible for us to live on, whereas Earth has the perfect conditions to support life.
How many sunrises does Venus have in a year?
As days on Venus are longer than its year, the planet has a sunrise every 117 Earth days, meaning the Sun only rises twice every Venusian year. By the time a day ends on Venus, two sunrises and a year have already passed by. This is opposite to the Earth, where the Sun rises and sets once each day.
Is Venus known as an evening star?
Although Venus isn’t a star it is often referred to as the “evening star” or “morning star”. Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky. Venus experiences different phases, just like the moon and as it travels around the sun within the orbit of Earth, it changes between a ‘morning star’ and an ‘evening star’. It roughly takes nine-and-a-half months for Venus to go through each of its phases. During this period, it changes between different stages of illumination. When Venus appears in the eastern sky before sunrise, it is known as the “morning star” and when it appears in the western sky just after sunset, it is known as the “evening star”.
How bright is Venus?
Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky, second to the moon. Venus is so bright it can be seen on a clear day from Earth. Albedo is used to measure the amount of sunlight reflected by a surface. The albedo of Venus is around .7, this means Venus reflects about 70 percent of the sunlight that strikes it. The Moon only has an albedo of .1 but looks brighter because it is closer to the Earth. Venus has such a high albedo because its clouds are so reflective, allowing the sunlight to easily bounce from them.
Does it rain on Venus?
Technically it does not rain on the surface of Venus, but the planet does experience rain. The most acidic rain in the Solar System is found on Venus with the rain being made up of a sulphuric acid solution. This sulfuric acid rain falls in the upper atmosphere of Venus not on the surface as it evaporates before it reaches it. The extreme acid rainfall is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to explore Venus.
We hope you enjoyed this informational article on the planet Venus and that you have learnt something from it. If you are interested in learning about all things to do with the solar system in more detail, why not give some of our other articles a read such as; Planets in our Solar System, Space Facts for Kids, 24 Facts on How the Planets were Discovered, What is a Comet and Amazing Meteor and Meteor Shower Facts.