The atmosphere on planet Venus:
The atmosphere on the planet Venus is nearly 100 times as dense as the atmosphere on Earth.
This leaves scientists studying the effects of global warming on planet Venus and what can be learned about Earth’s climate from that data.
The atmosphere on planet Venus in hot and thick, and scientists say it is no laughing matter. This extreme case of the greenhouse effect occurs because large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gasses in the atmosphere of planet Venus let the Sun shine through, but then trap that heat in the planet’s atmosphere.
Planet Venus has such an extreme case of this global warming because of the large amounts of carbon dioxide, as opposed to Earth’s atmosphere. Much of the heat from the sun on our planet is re-radiated into space.
On both Earth and Venus, shorter-wave infrared radiation from the Sun is passed through the atmosphere and heats the surface. It is then sent back out as longer-wave infrared radiation, or heat.
This heat is trapped in the atmosphere causing the “greenhouse effect.” The greenhouse effect on planet Venus is a complete system, trapping all the heat in the planet’s atmosphere.
However one thing confuses scientists. “Venus is much warmer than one would predict based on the amount of sunlight it absorbs,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a planetary scientist at Caltech.
“Planet Venus is closer to the Sun and receives more sunlight than Earth, but it reflects a higher fraction, so it actually absorbs slightly less than Earth,” he said. Yet, “Venus is much warmer than one would predict based on the amount of sunlight it absorbs.”
Planet Venus is over 700 Kelvin at its surface, which equates to 860 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead. The surface of Earth is less than 300 Kelvin on average. Venus’s thick atmosphere makes for a hot suffocating world where the atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth.
Made up of mainly carbon dioxide, the atmosphere on Venus also consists of nitrogen, and traces of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and water vapor. Sulfuric acid is what gives the clouds on Venus their yellow color and while levels of this acid vary, it is suggested that some of the volcanoes on Venus may still be active.
Planet Venus houses more than 1,000 volcanoes or volcanic centers larger than 20 km in diameter, and there are close to one million volcanic centers that are over 1 km in diameter. The surface of planet Venus is mostly covered by large lava flows.
A region named Ishtar Terra in the north is a lava-filled basin larger than the continental United States, and another area called the Aphrodite Terra highlands, is more than half the size of Africa. Long channels that extend across the surface of this planet for hundreds of kilometers have been produced by these vast lava flows.
While the atmosphere of planet Venus is not a great place for people or plants, some scientists do believe that microbes could survive in the atmosphere’s upper layers.
The surface temperature of planet Venus reaches over 450 degrees Celsius and the surface pressure is 90 times that of Earth. This high-density atmosphere results in incredible pressure making it hard to study the surface of this planet.
Probes that have managed to land on planet Venus only survive for hours before being crushed by the incredible pressure. Another feature that makes this heat wave so unbearable is the wind, which can move the clouds faster than hurricane speeds on Earth.
Planet Venus rotates on its axis once every 243 Earth days and orbits the sun every 225 days. Amazingly enough, the day is longer than the year. It rotates retrograde, or backwards in the opposite direction around the sun.
While there are many unusual features of this hot planet, scientists hope that by studying the greenhouse effect on planet Venus, we will be able to predict where our planet may be headed in terms of the global warming phenomenon.