Venus, our nearest neighbor, is one of the most inhospitable places in the solar system, it’s surface is often said to resemble the classical images of Hell, a really awful place that will kill you in less than 10 seconds.
We’ve talked a lot about sending people to Mars, mostly because sending people to Mars would be really, really cool. But we also talk so much about it because a lot of people think that Mars is the next place humans will colonize.
There’s been a lot of excitement about Mars recently, with the news that there’s liquid water and everything. But our next-door planet in the other direction will soon start to get its own share of attention, because the Akatsuki probe is about to make its second attempt at getting into orbit around Venus.
This June, skywatchers will have an opportunity to observe in the western sky — less than an hour after sunset — the two brightest planets in the night sky, Venus the brightest planet, and Jupiter as they are going to converge for a jaw-dropping close encounter.
As a planet, Venus, shrouded in thick clouds of carbon dioxide, doesn’t lend itself to visual observation. To lift the veil on Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, spacecraft such as NASA’s Magellan probe use radar to penetrate Venus’ clouds.
Venus is often described as Earth’s twin, but with a runaway greenhouse effect from excessive carbon dioxide. The planet closely resembles Earth in size, mass, chemical makeup, and distance from the sun. Those components, combined with the kinds of geological formations associated with water erosion, led scientists to hypothesize that Venus was once home to giant oceans, much like Earth.
NASA’s focus for human spaceflight seems to change every few years as we learn something new about what it will take to keep human beings alive out there. However, NASA usually picks one of a few targets. Will we go to Mars next, maybe back to the Moon, or perhaps an asteroid is a better option? NASA’s Langley Research Center has put forward an interesting proposal — instead of the traditional choices, why not make the trip to Venus?
What if, in our quest to find another Earth, we happen upon another Venus? We should celebrate, of course. Venus is often called Earth’s “twin” because it shares of lot of our home planet’s physical characteristics: surface area, composition and density.
Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is the second brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the second largest terrestrial planet and is sometimes referred to as the Earth’s sister planet due the their similar size and mass. The surface of the planet is obscured by an opaque layer of clouds made up of sulfuric acid.