Venus Fact File

Venus and Earth are similar in size, mass and composition. Venus is covered by thick spinning clouds that trap surface heat creating a world with extremely high temperatures and pressures. Besides trapping heat, the clouds also reflect much of the sunlight that reaches Venus. Because of this, Venus is the brightest planet visible in the night sky.

The atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide (97%), droplets of sulphuric acid, and virtually no water vapour. The high sulphur content of the atmosphere gives Venus a distinctive yellowish tint. The high density of the atmosphere results in a surface pressure 96 times that of Earth and allows the Sun's heat in but does not allow it to escape. This causes surface temperatures of over 450 C, hotter than the surface of the planet Mercury, which is closest to the Sun. The atmosphere consists of distinct layers separated by temperature and density. In the middle layers sulphuric acid condenses and rains down, but due to the immense heat it never reaches the planet's surface. In the upper layers, winds rage at speeds of over 360kph - faster than hurricane-force winds on Earth.

Venus rotates on its axis once every 243 Earth days, while it orbits the Sun every 225 days. Venus rotates retrograde, or "backwards," spinning in the opposite direction of its orbit around the Sun. This means that from its surface, the Sun would seem to rise in the west and set in the east.

The surface of Venus is covered by about 20 percent lowland plains, 70 percent rolling uplands, and 10 percent highlands. Volcanism, impacts, and deformation of the crust have shaped the surface. More than 1,000 volcanoes or volcanic centers larger than 20 km in diameter dot the surface of Venus. There may be close to a million volcanic centers that are over 1 km in diameter. Much of the surface is covered by vast lava flows. In the north, an elevated region named Ishtar Terra is a lava-filled basin larger than the continental United States. Near the equator, the Aphrodite Terra highlands, more than half the size of Africa, extend for almost 10,000 km. Volcanic flows have also produced long, sinuous channels extending for hundreds of kilometers.

Venus Facts

  • Average Distance from the Sun : 108,208,930 km
  • Perihelion (closest): 107,476,000 km
  • Aphelion (farthest): 108,942,000 km
  • Equatorial Radius: 6,051.8 km
  • Equatorial Circumference: 38,025 km
  • Mass: 4,868,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
  • Volume: 928,400,000,000 km3
  • Density: 5.24 g/cm3
  • Surface Area: 460,200,000 km2
  • Equatorial Surface Gravity: 8.87 m/s2
  • Escape Velocity: 37,300 km/h
  • Length of Day: 243 Earth days (retrograde)
  • Length of Year: 224.7 Earth days
  • Mean Orbit Velocity: 126,077 km/h
  • Orbital Eccentricity: .0068
  • Orbital Inclination to Ecliptic: 3.39 degrees
  • Equatorial Inclination to Orbit: 177.3 degrees
  • Orbital Circumference: 675,300,000 km
  • Minimum/Maximum Surface Temperature: 462 °C
  • Atmospheric Constituents: Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen
  • Number of Moons: 0

Source: NASA