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There’s no sense in sugar-coating it – Venus is a hellish place! It is the hottest planet in the Solar System, with atmospheric temperatures that are hot enough to melt lead. The air is also a toxic plume, composed predominantly of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid rain clouds. And yet, scientists theorize that Venus was once a much different place, with a cooler atmosphere and liquid oceans on its surface.
Unfortunately, this all changed billions of years ago as Venus experienced a runaway greenhouse effect, changing the landscape into the hellish world we know today. According to a NASA-supported study by an international team of scientists, it may have actually been the presence of this ocean that caused Venus to experience this transition in the first place.
Venus - Variations - Temperature - Day - Night
Aside from being extremely hot, Venus also experiences virtually no variations in temperature between day or night or over the course of a year. This is attributed to its extremely dense atmosphere (93 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere) and the planet’s slow rotation. Compared to Earth’s relatively fast rotation of 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds, Venus takes around 243 days to complete a single rotation on its axis.
It’s also worth noting that Venus rotates in the opposite direction of Earth and most of the other planets (retrograde rotation). Between this laboriously slow rotation, the planet’s thick insulating atmosphere, and the transfer of heat by winds in the lower atmosphere, temperatures on Venus’ surface never deviate much from the average of 462 °C (864 °F).
Time - Astronomers - Venus - Direction - Earth
For some time, astronomers have suspected that Venus may have rotated more rapidly and in the same direction as Earth, which would have been a key factor in it being able to support a liquid ocean on its surface (and possibly even host life). As for what caused this...
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