VENUS - THE EARTH TWIN
VENUS - THE EARTH TWIN
Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. It’s one of the four inner, terrestrial (or rocky) planets, and it’s often called Earth’s twin because it’s similar in size and density. These are not identical twins, however – there are radical differences between the two worlds.
Venus has a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and it’s perpetually shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of sulfuric acid that trap heat, causing a runaway greenhouse effect. It’s the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. The surface is a rusty color and it’s peppered with intensely crunched mountains and thousands of large volcanoes.
Venus has crushing air pressure at its surface – more than 90 times that of Earth – similar to the pressure you'd encounter a mile below the ocean on Earth. Another big difference from Earth – Venus rotates on its axis backward, compared to most of the other planets in the solar system. This means that, on Venus, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
Venus was the first planet to be explored by a spacecraft – NASA’s Mariner 2. More recent Venus missions include ESA’s Venus Express and Japan’s Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter. Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after our own Moon. Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition. It is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide.
Much of the Venusian surface appears to have been shaped by volcanic activity. Venus has several times as many volcanoes as Earth, and it has 167 large volcanoes that are over 100 km (60 mi) across. The only volcanic complex of this size on Earth is the Big Island of Hawaii. This is not because Venus is more volcanically active than Earth, but because its crust is older and is not subject to the same erosion process. Earth's oceanic crust is continually recycled by subduction at the boundaries of tectonic plates, and has an average age of about a hundred million years, whereas the Venusian surface is estimated to be 300–600 million years old.
Without seismic data or knowledge of its moment of inertia, little direct information is available about the internal structure and geochemistry of Venus. The similarity in size and density between Venus and Earth suggests they share a similar internal structure: a core, mantle, and crust. Like that of Earth, the Venusian core is most likely at least partially liquid because the two planets have been cooling at about the same rate, although a completely solid core cannot be ruled out. The principal difference between the two planets is the lack of evidence for plate tectonics on Venus, possibly because its crust is too strong to subduct without water to make it less viscous. This results in reduced heat loss from the planet, preventing it from cooling and providing a likely explanation for its lack of an internally generated magnetic field.