The average surface temperature is 462 °C, and because Venus does not tilt on its axis, there is no seasonal variation. The dense atmosphere of around 96.5 percent carbon dioxide traps heat and causes a greenhouse effect.
A detailed study of Venus is currently underway:
In 2006, the Venus Express space shuttle was sent into orbit around Venus by the European Space Agency, and is sending back information about the planet. Originally planned to last five hundred Earth days, the mission has been extended several times. More than 1,000 volcanoes or volcanic centres larger than 20 km have been found on the surface of Venus.
The Venera 1 space probe was launched in 1961, but lost contact with base. The USA also lost their first probe to Venus, Mariner 1, although Mariner 2 was able to take measurements of the planet in 1962. The Soviet Union’s Venera 3 was the first man-made craft to land on Venus in 1966.
At one point it was thought Venus might be a tropical paradise:
The dense clouds of sulphuric acid surrounding Venus make it impossible to view its surface from outside its atmosphere. It was only when radio mapping was developed in the 1960s that scientists were able to observe and measure the extreme temperatures and hostile environment. It is thought Venus did once have oceans but these evaporated as the planets temperature increased.