1.a planet (usually Venus) seen at sunset in the western sky
2.type genus of the family Veneridae: genus of edible clams with thick oval shells
3.the second nearest planet to the sun; it is peculiar in that its rotation is slow and retrograde (in the opposite sense of the Earth and all other planets except Uranus); it is visible from Earth as an early `morning star' or an `evening star'"befo..."
4.goddess of love; counterpart of Greek Aphrodite
5.(MeSH)The second planet in order from the sun. It has no known natural satellites. It is one of the four inner or terrestrial planets of the solar system.
VenusVe"nus (vē"nŭs), n. [L. Venus, -eris, the goddess of love, the planet Venus.]
1. (Class. Myth.) The goddess of beauty and love, that is, beauty or love deified.
2. (Anat.) One of the planets, the second in order from the sun, its orbit lying between that of Mercury and that of the Earth, at a mean distance from the sun of about 67,000,000 miles. Its diameter is 7,700 miles, and its sidereal period 224.7 days. As the morning star, it was called by the ancients Lucifer; as the evening star, Hesperus.
3. (Alchem.) The metal copper; -- probably so designated from the ancient use of the metal in making mirrors, a mirror being still the astronomical symbol of the planet Venus. [Archaic]
4. (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of marine bivalve shells of the genus Venus or family Veneridæ. Many of these shells are large, and ornamented with beautiful frills; others are smooth, glossy, and handsomely colored. Some of the larger species, as the round clam, or quahog, are valued for food.
Venus's basin (Bot.), the wild teasel; -- so called because the connate leaf bases form a kind of receptacle for water, which was formerly gathered for use in the toilet. Also called Venus's bath. -- Venus's basket (Zoöl.), an elegant, cornucopia-shaped, hexactinellid sponge (Euplectella speciosa) native of the East Indies. It consists of glassy, transparent, siliceous fibers interwoven and soldered together so as to form a firm network, and has long, slender, divergent anchoring fibers at the base by means of which it stands erect in the soft mud at the bottom of the sea. Called also Venus's flower basket, and Venus's purse. -- Venus's comb. (a) (Bot.) Same as Lady's comb. (b) (Zoöl.) A species of Murex (Murex tenuispinus). It has a long, tubular canal, with a row of long, slender spines along both of its borders, and rows of similar spines covering the body of the shell. Called also Venus's shell. -- Venus's fan (Zoöl.), a common reticulated, fanshaped gorgonia (Gorgonia flabellum) native of Florida and the West Indies. When fresh the color is purple or yellow, or a mixture of the two. -- Venus's flytrap. (Bot.) See Flytrap, 2. -- Venus's girdle (Zoöl.), a long, flat, ribbonlike, very delicate, transparent and iridescent ctenophore (Cestum Veneris) which swims in the open sea. Its form is due to the enormous development of two spheromeres. See Illust. in Appendix. -- Venus's hair (Bot.), a delicate and graceful fern (Adiantum Capillus-Veneris) having a slender, black and shining stem and branches. -- Venus's hair stone (Min.), quartz penetrated by acicular crystals of rutile. -- Venus's looking-glass (Bot.), an annual plant of the genus Specularia allied to the bellflower; -- also called lady's looking-glass. -- Venus's navelwort (Bot.), any one of several species of Omphalodes, low boraginaceous herbs with small blue or white flowers. -- Venus's pride (Bot.), an old name for Quaker ladies. See under Quaker. -- Venus's purse. (Zoöl.) Same as Venus's basket, above. -- Venus's shell. (Zoöl.) (a) Any species of Cypræa; a cowrie. (b) Same as Venus's comb, above. (c) Same as Venus, 4. -- Venus's slipper. (a) (Bot.) Any plant of the genus Cypripedium. See Lady's slipper. (b) (Zoöl.) Any heteropod shell of the genus Carinaria. See Carinaria.
Venus flytrap • Venus maidenhair • Venus mercenaria • Venus' collar • Venus' necklace • Venus' slipper • Venus'-hair fern • Venus's curse • Venus's flower basket • Venus's flytrap • Venus's flytraps • Venus's girdle • Venus's shoe • Venus's slipper • genus Venus • warted venus shell
planet; major planet[Classe]
celestial body, heavenly body[Hyper.]
major planet, planet[Hyper.]
coquillage marin (fr)[Classe]
mollusque marin comestible (fr)[ClasseParExt.]
bivalve; pelecypod; lamellibranch[ClasseTaxo.]
planet; major planet[Classe]
Galaxy, Milky Way[Situé]
dieu du panthéon romain (fr)[Classe]
belle femme (fr)[Classe]
déesse grecque (fr)[Classe]
ancient times, antiquity[Domaine]
déesse romaine (fr)[Classe]
Venus in true color. The surface is obscured by a thick blanket of clouds.
|Adjective||Venusian or (rarely) Cytherean, Venerean|
|Synodic period||583.92 days|
|Average orbital speed||35.02 km/s|
|Longitude of ascending node||76.670 69°|
|Argument of perihelion||54.852 29°|
|Mean density||5.204 g/cm3|
|Equatorial surface gravity|
|Escape velocity||10.46 km/s|
|−243.018 5 day|
|Equatorial rotation velocity||6.52 km/h (1.81 m/s)|
|North pole right ascension||
|North pole declination||67.16°|
|Surface pressure||93 bar (9.3 MPa)|
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows. Because Venus is an inferior planet from Earth, it never appears to venture far from the Sun: its elongation reaches a maximum of 47.8°. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it has been known as the Morning Star or Evening Star.
Venus is classified as a terrestrial planet and it is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" owing to their similar size, gravity, and bulk composition. Venus is covered with an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. Venus has the most dense atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets in the Solar System, consisting of mostly carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of the Earth. Venus has no carbon cycle to lock carbon back into rocks and surface features, nor does it seem to have any organic life to absorb it in biomass. Venus is believed to have previously possessed oceans, but these evaporated as the temperature rose owing to the runaway greenhouse effect. The water has most probably photodissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind. Venus's surface is a dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks, periodically refreshed by volcanism.
Venus is one of the four solar terrestrial planets, meaning that, like the Earth, it is a rocky body. In size and mass, it is very similar to the Earth, and is often described as Earth's "sister" or "twin". The diameter of Venus is 12,092 km (only 650 km less than the Earth's) and its mass is 81.5% of the Earth's. Conditions on the Venusian surface differ radically from those on Earth, owing to its dense carbon dioxide atmosphere. The mass of the atmosphere of Venus is 96.5% carbon dioxide, with most of the remaining 3.5% being nitrogen.
The Venusian surface was a subject of speculation until some of its secrets were revealed by planetary science in the 20th century. It was finally mapped in detail by Project Magellan in 1990–91. The ground shows evidence of extensive volcanism, and the sulfur in the atmosphere may indicate there have been some recent eruptions.
About 80% of the Venusian surface is covered by smooth, volcanic plains, consisting of 70% plains with wrinkle ridges and 10% smooth or lobate plains. Two highland "continents" make up the rest of its surface area, one lying in the planet's northern hemisphere and the other just south of the equator. The northern continent is called Ishtar Terra, after Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, and is about the size of Australia. Maxwell Montes, the highest mountain on Venus, lies on Ishtar Terra. Its peak is 11 km above the Venusian average surface elevation. The southern continent is called Aphrodite Terra, after the Greek goddess of love, and is the larger of the two highland regions at roughly the size of South America. A network of fractures and faults covers much of this area.
The absence of evidence of lava flow accompanying any of the visible caldera remains an enigma. The planet has few impact craters, demonstrating the surface is relatively young, approximately 300–600 million years old. In addition to the impact craters, mountains, and valleys commonly found on rocky planets, Venus has a number of unique surface features. Among these are flat-topped volcanic features called "farra", which look somewhat like pancakes and range in size from 20–50 km across, and 100–1,000 m high; radial, star-like fracture systems called "novae"; features with both radial and concentric fractures resembling spider webs, known as "arachnoids"; and "coronae", circular rings of fractures sometimes surrounded by a depression. These features are volcanic in origin.
Most Venusian surface features are named after historical and mythological women. Exceptions are Maxwell Montes, named after James Clerk Maxwell, and highland regions Alpha Regio, Beta Regio and Ovda Regio. The former three features were named before the current system was adopted by the International Astronomical Union, the body that oversees planetary nomenclature.
The longitudes of physical features on Venus are expressed relative to its prime meridian. The original prime meridian passed through the radar-bright spot at the center of the oval feature Eve, located south of Alpha Regio. After the Venera missions were completed, the prime meridian was redefined to pass through the central peak in the crater Ariadne.
Much of the Venusian surface appears to have been shaped by volcanic activity. Venus has several times as many volcanoes as Earth, and it possesses some 167 large volcanoes that are over 100 km across. The only volcanic complex of this size on Earth is the Big Island of Hawaii. This is not because Venus is more volcanically active than Earth, but because its crust is older. Earth's oceanic crust is continually recycled by subduction at the boundaries of tectonic plates, and has an average age of about 100 million years, while the Venusian surface is estimated to be 300–600 million years old.
Several lines of evidence point to ongoing volcanic activity on Venus. During the Soviet Venera program, the Venera 11 and Venera 12 probes detected a constant stream of lightning, and Venera 12 recorded a powerful clap of thunder soon after it landed. The European Space Agency's Venus Express recorded abundant lightning in the high atmosphere. While rainfall drives thunderstorms on Earth, there is no rainfall on the surface of Venus (though it does rain sulfuric acid, in the upper atmosphere, which evaporates around 25 km above the surface). One possibility is ash from a volcanic eruption was generating the lightning. Another piece of evidence comes from measurements of sulfur dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which were found to drop by a factor of 10 between 1978 and 1986. This may imply the levels had earlier been boosted by a large volcanic eruption.
Almost a thousand impact craters on Venus are evenly distributed across its surface. On other cratered bodies, such as the Earth and the Moon, craters show a range of states of degradation. On the Moon, degradation is caused by subsequent impacts, while on Earth, it is caused by wind and rain erosion. On Venus, about 85% of the craters are in pristine condition. The number of craters, together with their well-preserved condition, indicates the planet underwent a global resurfacing event about 300–600 million years ago, followed by a decay in volcanism. Earth's crust is in continuous motion, Venus is thought to be unable to sustain such a process. Without plate tectonics to dissipate heat from its mantle, Venus instead undergoes a cyclical process in which mantle temperatures rise until they reach a critical level that weakens the crust. Then, over a period of about 100 million years, subduction occurs on an enormous scale, completely recycling the crust.
Venusian craters range from 3 km to 280 km in diameter. No craters are smaller than 3 km, because of the effects of the dense atmosphere on incoming objects. Objects with less than a certain kinetic energy are slowed down so much by the atmosphere, they do not create an impact crater. Incoming projectiles less than 50 meters in diameter will fragment and burn up in the atmosphere before reaching the ground.
Without seismic data or knowledge of its moment of inertia, little direct information is available about the internal structure and geochemistry of Venus. The similarity in size and density between Venus and Earth suggests they share a similar internal structure: a core, mantle, and crust. Like that of Earth, the Venusian core is at least partially liquid because the two planets have been cooling at about the same rate. The slightly smaller size of Venus suggests pressures are significantly lower in its deep interior than Earth. The principal difference between the two planets is the lack of evidence for plate tectonics on Venus, possibly because its crust is too strong to subduct without water to make it less viscous. This results in reduced heat loss from the planet, preventing it from cooling and providing a likely explanation for its lack of an internally generated magnetic field. Instead, Venus may lose its internal heat in periodic major resurfacing events.
Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere, which consists mainly of carbon dioxide and a small amount of nitrogen. The atmospheric mass is 93 times that of Earth's atmosphere, while the pressure at the planet's surface is about 92 times that at Earth's surface—a pressure equivalent to that at a depth of nearly 1 kilometer under Earth's oceans. The density at the surface is 65 kg/m³ (6.5% that of water). The CO2-rich atmosphere, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the Solar System, creating surface temperatures of over 460 °C (860 °F). This makes the Venusian surface hotter than Mercury's, which has a minimum surface temperature of −220 °C and maximum surface temperature of 420 °C, even though Venus is nearly twice Mercury's distance from the Sun and thus receives only 25% of Mercury's solar irradiance. The surface of Venus is often said to resemble traditional accounts of Hell.
Studies have suggested that billions of years ago, the Venusian atmosphere was much more like Earth's than it is now, and that there were probably substantial quantities of liquid water on the surface, but a runaway greenhouse effect was caused by the evaporation of that original water, which generated a critical level of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere. Although the surface conditions on the planet are no longer hospitable to any Earthlike life that may have formed prior to this event, the possibility that a habitable niche still exists in the lower and middle cloud layers of Venus can not yet be excluded.
Thermal inertia and the transfer of heat by winds in the lower atmosphere mean that the temperature of the Venusian surface does not vary significantly between the night and day sides, despite the planet's extremely slow rotation. Winds at the surface are slow, moving at a few kilometers per hour, but because of the high density of the atmosphere at the Venusian surface, they exert a significant amount of force against obstructions, and transport dust and small stones across the surface. This alone would make it difficult for a human to walk through, even if the heat and lack of oxygen were not a problem.
Above the dense CO2 layer are thick clouds consisting mainly of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid droplets. These clouds reflect and scatter about 90% of the sunlight that falls on them back into space, and prevent visual observation of the Venusian surface. The permanent cloud cover means that although Venus is closer than Earth to the Sun, the Venusian surface is not as well lit. Strong 300 km/h winds at the cloud tops circle the planet about every four to five earth days. Venusian winds move at up to 60 times the speed of the planet's rotation, while Earth's fastest winds are only 10% to 20% rotation speed.
The surface of Venus is effectively isothermal; it retains a constant temperature not only between day and night but between the equator and the poles. The planet's minute axial tilt (less than three degrees, compared with 23 degrees for Earth), also minimizes seasonal temperature variation. The only appreciable variation in temperature occurs with altitude. In 1995, the Magellan probe imaged a highly reflective substance at the tops of the highest mountain peaks that bore a strong resemblance to terrestrial snow. This substance arguably formed from a similar process to snow, albeit at a far higher temperature. Too volatile to condense on the surface, it rose in gas form to cooler higher elevations, where it then fell as precipitation. The identity of this substance is not known with certainty, but speculation has ranged from elemental tellurium to lead sulfide (galena).
The clouds of Venus are capable of producing lightning much like the clouds on Earth. The existence of lightning had been controversial since the first suspected bursts were detected by the Soviet Venera probes. In 2006–07 Venus Express clearly detected whistler mode waves, the signatures of lightning. Their intermittent appearance indicates a pattern associated with weather activity. The lightning rate is at least half of that on Earth. In 2007 the Venus Express probe discovered that a huge double atmospheric vortex exists at the south pole of the planet.
In 1967, Venera-4 found the Venusian magnetic field is much weaker than that of Earth. This magnetic field is induced by an interaction between the ionosphere and the solar wind, rather than by an internal dynamo in the core like the one inside the Earth. Venus' small induced magnetosphere provides negligible protection to the atmosphere against cosmic radiation. This radiation may result in cloud-to-cloud lightning discharges.
The lack of an intrinsic magnetic field at Venus was surprising given it is similar to Earth in size, and was expected also to contain a dynamo at its core. A dynamo requires three things: A conducting liquid, rotation, and convection. The core is thought to be electrically conductive and, while its rotation is often thought to be too slow, simulations show it is adequate to produce a dynamo. This implies the dynamo is missing because of a lack of convection in the Venusian core. On Earth, convection occurs in the liquid outer layer of the core because the bottom of the liquid layer is much hotter than the top. On Venus, a global resurfacing event may have shut down plate tectonics and led to a reduced heat flux through the crust. This caused the mantle temperature to increase, thereby reducing the heat flux out of the core. As a result, no internal geodynamo is available to drive a magnetic field. Instead, the heat energy from the core is being used to reheat the crust.
One possibility is Venus has no solid inner core, or its core is not currently cooling, so the entire liquid part of the core is at approximately the same temperature. Another possibility is its core has already completely solidified. The state of the core is highly dependent on the concentration of sulfur, which is unknown at present.
The weak magnetosphere around Venus means the solar wind is interacting directly with the outer atmosphere of the planet. Here, ions of hydrogen and oxygen are being created by the dissociation of neutral molecules from ultraviolet radiation. The solar wind then supplies energy that gives some of these ions sufficient velocity to escape the planet's gravity field. This erosion process results in a steady loss of low-mass hydrogen, helium, and oxygen ions, while higher-mass molecules, such as carbon dioxide, are more likely to be retained. Atmospheric erosion by the solar wind most probably led to the loss of most of the planet's water during the first billion years after it formed. The erosion has increased the ratio of higher-mass deuterium to lower-mass hydrogen in the upper atmosphere by a multiple of 150 times the ratio in the lower atmosphere.
Venus orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 0.72 AU (108,000,000 km; 67,000,000 mi), and completes an orbit every 224.65 days. Although all planetary orbits are elliptical, Venus is the closest to circular, with an eccentricity of less than 0.01. When Venus lies between the Earth and the Sun, a position known as inferior conjunction, it makes the closest approach to Earth of any planet at an average distance of 41 million km. The planet reaches inferior conjunction every 584 days, on average. Owing to the decreasing eccentricity of Earth's orbit, the minimum distances will become greater over tens of thousands of years. From the year 1 to 5383, 526 approaches less than 40 million km happen; then happen none for about 60,158 years. During periods of greater eccentricity, Venus can come as close as 38.2 million km.
All the planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun in a counter-clockwise direction as viewed from above the Sun's north pole. Most planets also rotate on their axis in a counter-clockwise direction, but Venus rotates clockwise (called "retrograde" rotation) once every 243 Earth days—by far the slowest rotation period of any major planet. The equator of the Venusian surface rotates at 6.5 km/h, while on Earth rotation speed at the equator is about 1,670 km/h. A Venusian sidereal day thus lasts longer than a Venusian year (243 versus 224.7 Earth days). Because of the retrograde rotation, the length of a solar day on Venus is significantly shorter than the sidereal day. As a result of Venus's relatively long solar day, one Venusian year is about 1.92 Venusian days long. To an observer on the surface of Venus, the Sun would appear to rise in the west and set in the east and the time from one sunrise to the next would be 116.75 Earth days (making the Venusian solar day shorter than Mercury's 176 Earth days).
Venus may have formed from the solar nebula with a different rotation period and obliquity, reaching to its current state because of chaotic spin changes caused by planetary perturbations and tidal effects on its dense atmosphere, a change that would have occurred over the course of billions of years. The rotation period of Venus may represent an equilibrium state between tidal locking to the Sun's gravitation, which tends to slow rotation, and an atmospheric tide created by solar heating of the thick Venusian atmosphere. A curious aspect of the Venusian orbit and rotation periods is the 584-day average interval between successive close approaches to the Earth is almost exactly equal to five Venusian solar days. However, the hypothesis of a spin-orbit resonance with Earth has been discounted.
Venus currently has no natural satellite, though the asteroid 2002 VE68 presently maintains a quasi-orbital relationship with it. In the 17th century, Giovanni Cassini reported a moon orbiting Venus, which was named Neith and numerous sightings were reported over the following 200 years, but most were determined to be stars in the vicinity. Alex Alemi's and David Stevenson's 2006 study of models of the early Solar System at the California Institute of Technology shows Venus likely had at least one moon created by a huge impact event billions of years ago. About 10 million years later, according to the study, another impact reversed the planet's spin direction and caused the Venusian moon gradually to spiral inward until it collided and merged with Venus. If later impacts created moons, these also were absorbed in the same way. An alternative explanation for the lack of satellites is the effect of strong solar tides, which can destabilize large satellites orbiting the inner terrestrial planets.
Venus is always brighter than any star (apart from the Sun). The greatest luminosity, apparent magnitude −4.9, occurs during crescent phase when it is near the Earth. Venus fades to about magnitude −3 when it is backlit by the Sun. The planet is bright enough to be seen in the middle of the day when the sky is very clear, and the planet can be easy to see when the Sun is low on the horizon. As an inferior planet, it always lies within about 47° of the Sun.
Venus "overtakes" the Earth every 584 days as it orbits the Sun. As it does so, it changes from the "Evening Star", visible after sunset, to the "Morning Star", visible before sunrise. While Mercury, the other inferior planet, reaches a maximum elongation of only 28° and is often difficult to discern in twilight, Venus is hard to miss when it is at its brightest. Its greater maximum elongation means it is visible in dark skies long after sunset. As the brightest point-like object in the sky, Venus is a commonly misreported "unidentified flying object". U.S. President Jimmy Carter reported having seen a UFO in 1969, which later analysis suggested was probably the planet. Countless other people have mistaken Venus for something more exotic.
As it moves around its orbit, Venus displays phases in a telescopic view like those of the Moon: In the phases of Venus, the planet presents a small "full" image when it is on the opposite side of the Sun. It shows a larger "quarter phase" when it is at its maximum elongations from the Sun, and is at its brightest in the night sky, and presents a much larger "thin crescent" in telescopic views as it comes around to the near side between the Earth and the Sun. Venus is at its largest and presents its "new phase" when it is between the Earth and the Sun. Its atmosphere can be seen in a telescope by the halo of light refracted around the planet.
The Venusian orbit is slightly inclined relative to the Earth's orbit; thus, when the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun, it usually does not cross the face of the Sun. Transits of Venus do occur when the planet's inferior conjunction coincides with its presence in the plane of the Earth's orbit. Transits of Venus occur in cycles of 243 years with the current pattern of transits being pairs of transits separated by eight years, at intervals of about 105.5 years or 121.5 years—a pattern first discovered in 1639 by English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks.
The preceding pair of transits occurred in December 1874 and December 1882; the following pair will occur in December 2117 and December 2125. Historically, transits of Venus were important, because they allowed astronomers to directly determine the size of the astronomical unit, and hence the size of the Solar System as shown by Horrocks in 1639. Captain Cook's exploration of the east coast of Australia came after he had sailed to Tahiti in 1768 to observe a transit of Venus.
A long-standing mystery of Venus observations is the so-called ashen light—an apparent weak illumination of the dark side of the planet, seen when the planet is in the crescent phase. The first claimed observation of ashen light was made as long ago as 1643, but the existence of the illumination has never been reliably confirmed. Observers have speculated it may result from electrical activity in the Venusian atmosphere, but it may be illusory, resulting from the physiological effect of observing a very bright, crescent-shaped object.
Venus was known to ancient civilizations both as the "morning star" and as the "evening star", names that reflect the early understanding that these were two separate objects. The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, dated 1581 BC, shows the Babylonians understood the two were a single object, referred to in the tablet as the "bright queen of the sky," and could support this view with detailed observations. The Greeks thought of the two as separate stars, Phosphorus and Hesperus, until the time of Pythagoras in the sixth century BC. The Romans designated the morning aspect of Venus as Lucifer, literally "Light-Bringer", and the evening aspect as Vesper.
The first recorded observation of a transit of Venus was made by Jeremiah Horrocks on December 4, 1639 (November 24th under the Julian calendar in use at that time), along with his friend, William Crabtree, at each of their respective homes.
When the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei first observed the planet in the early 17th century, he found it showed phases like the Moon, varying from crescent to gibbous to full and vice versa. When Venus is furthest from the Sun in the sky, it shows a half-lit phase, and when it is closest to the Sun in the sky, it shows as a crescent or full phase. This could be possible only if Venus orbited the Sun, and this was among the first observations to clearly contradict the Ptolemaic geocentric model that the Solar System was concentric and centered on the Earth.
The atmosphere of Venus was discovered in 1761 by Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov. Venus' atmosphere was observed in 1790 by German astronomer Johann Schröter. Schröter found when the planet was a thin crescent, the cusps extended through more than 180°. He correctly surmised this was due to scattering of sunlight in a dense atmosphere. Later, American astronomer Chester Smith Lyman observed a complete ring around the dark side of the planet when it was at inferior conjunction, providing further evidence for an atmosphere. The atmosphere complicated efforts to determine a rotation period for the planet, and observers such as Italian-born astronomer Giovanni Cassini and Schröter incorrectly estimated periods of about 24 hours from the motions of markings on the planet's apparent surface.
Little more was discovered about Venus until the 20th century. Its almost featureless disc gave no hint what its surface might be like, and it was only with the development of spectroscopic, radar and ultraviolet observations that more of its secrets were revealed. The first UV observations were carried out in the 1920s, when Frank E. Ross found that UV photographs revealed considerable detail that was absent in visible and infrared radiation. He suggested this was due to a very dense, yellow lower atmosphere with high cirrus clouds above it.
Spectroscopic observations in the 1900s gave the first clues about the Venusian rotation. Vesto Slipher tried to measure the Doppler shift of light from Venus, but found he could not detect any rotation. He surmised the planet must have a much longer rotation period than had previously been thought. Later work in the 1950s showed the rotation was retrograde. Radar observations of Venus were first carried out in the 1960s, and provided the first measurements of the rotation period which were close to the modern value.
Radar observations in the 1970s revealed details of the Venusian surface for the first time. Pulses of radio waves were beamed at the planet using the 300-m radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory, and the echoes revealed two highly reflective regions, designated the Alpha and Beta regions. The observations also revealed a bright region attributed to mountains, which was called Maxwell Montes. These three features are now the only ones on Venus which do not have female names.
The first robotic space probe mission to Venus, and the first to any planet, began on February 12, 1961, with the launch of the Venera 1 probe. The first craft of the otherwise highly successful Soviet Venera program, Venera 1 was launched on a direct impact trajectory, but contact was lost seven days into the mission, when the probe was about 2 million km from Earth. It was estimated to have passed within 100,000 km of Venus in mid-May.
The United States exploration of Venus also started badly with the loss of the Mariner 1 probe on launch. The subsequent Mariner 2 mission enjoyed greater success, and after a 109-day transfer orbit on December 14, 1962, it became the world's first successful interplanetary mission, passing 34,833 km above the surface of Venus. Its microwave and infrared radiometers revealed that while the Venusian cloud tops were cool, the surface was extremely hot—at least 425°C, finally ending any hopes that the planet might harbor ground-based life. Mariner 2 also obtained improved estimates of its mass and of the astronomical unit, but was unable to detect either a magnetic field or radiation belts.
The Soviet Venera 3 probe crash-landed on Venus on March 1, 1966. It was the first man-made object to enter the atmosphere and strike the surface of another planet, though its communication system failed before it was able to return any planetary data. On October 18, 1967, Venera 4 successfully entered the atmosphere and deployed a number of science experiments. Venera 4 showed the surface temperature was even hotter than Mariner 2 had measured at almost 500°C, and the atmosphere was about 90 to 95% carbon dioxide. The Venusian atmosphere was considerably denser than Venera 4's designers had anticipated, and its slower than intended parachute descent meant its batteries ran down before the probe reached the surface. After returning descent data for 93 minutes, Venera 4's last pressure reading was 18 bar at an altitude of 24.96 km.
One day later on October 19, 1967, Mariner 5 conducted a fly-by at a distance of less than 4000 km above the cloud tops. Mariner 5 was originally built as backup for the Mars-bound Mariner 4, but when that mission was successful, the probe was refitted for a Venus mission. A suite of instruments more sensitive than those on Mariner 2, in particular its radio occultation experiment, returned data on the composition, pressure and density of the Venusian atmosphere. The joint Venera 4 – Mariner 5 data were analyzed by a combined Soviet-American science team in a series of colloquia over the following year, in an early example of space cooperation.
Armed with the lessons and data learned from Venera 4, the Soviet Union launched the twin probes Venera 5 and Venera 6 five days apart in January 1969; they encountered Venus a day apart on May 16 and 17 that year. The probes were strengthened to improve their crush depth to 25 bar and were equipped with smaller parachutes to achieve a faster descent. Since then-current atmospheric models of Venus suggested a surface pressure of between 75 and 100 bar, neither was expected to survive to the surface. After returning atmospheric data for a little over 50 minutes, they both were crushed at altitudes of approximately 20 km before going on to strike the surface on the night side of Venus.
Venera 7 represented an effort to return data from the planet's surface, and was constructed with a reinforced descent module capable of withstanding a pressure of 180 bar. The module was precooled before entry and equipped with a specially reefed parachute for a rapid 35-minute descent. While entering the atmosphere on December 15, 1970, the parachute is believed to have partially torn, and the probe struck the surface with a hard, yet not fatal, impact. Probably tilted onto its side, it returned a weak signal, supplying temperature data for 23 minutes, the first telemetry received from the surface of another planet.
The Venera program continued with Venera 8 sending data from the surface for 50 minutes, after entering the atmosphere on July 22, 1972. Venera 9, which entered the atmosphere of Venus on October 22, 1975, and Venera 10, which entered the atmosphere three days later on October 25, sent the first images of the Venusian landscape. The two landing sites presented very different terrains in the immediate vicinities of the landers: Venera 9 had landed on a 20-degree slope scattered with boulders around 30–40 cm across; Venera 10 showed basalt-like rock slabs interspersed with weathered material.
In the meantime, the United States had sent the Mariner 10 probe on a gravitational slingshot trajectory past Venus on its way to Mercury. On February 5, 1974, Mariner 10 passed within 5790 km of Venus, returning over 4000 photographs as it did so. The images, the best then achieved, showed the planet to be almost featureless in visible light, but ultraviolet light revealed details in the clouds that had never been seen in Earth-bound observations.
The American Pioneer Venus project consisted of two separate missions. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter was inserted into an elliptical orbit around Venus on December 4, 1978, and remained there for over 13 years, studying the atmosphere and mapping the surface with radar. The Pioneer Venus Multiprobe released a total of four probes which entered the atmosphere on December 9, 1978, returning data on its composition, winds and heat fluxes.
Four more Venera lander missions took place over the next four years, with Venera 11 and Venera 12 detecting Venusian electrical storms; and Venera 13 and Venera 14, landing four days apart on March 1 and March 5, 1982, returning the first color photographs of the surface. All four missions deployed parachutes for braking in the upper atmosphere, but released them at altitudes of 50 km, the dense lower atmosphere providing enough friction to allow for unaided soft landings. Both Venera 13 and 14 analyzed soil samples with an on-board X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, and attempted to measure the compressibility of the soil with an impact probe. Venera 14, though, had the misfortune to strike its own ejected camera lens cap and its probe failed to contact the soil. The Venera program came to a close in October 1983, when Venera 15 and Venera 16 were placed in orbit to conduct mapping of the Venusian terrain with synthetic aperture radar.
In 1985, the Soviet Union took advantage of the opportunity to combine missions to Venus and Comet Halley, which passed through the inner Solar System that year. En route to Halley, on June 11 and June 15, 1985, the two spacecraft of the Vega program each dropped a Venera-style probe (of which Vega 1's partially failed) and released a balloon-supported aerobot into the upper atmosphere. The balloons achieved an equilibrium altitude of around 53 km, where pressure and temperature are comparable to those at Earth's surface. They remained operational for around 46 hours, and discovered the Venusian atmosphere was more turbulent than previously believed, and subject to high winds and powerful convection cells.
Early Earth-based radar provided a basic idea of the surface. The Pioneer Venus and the Veneras provided improved resolution.
The United States' Magellan probe was launched on May 4, 1989, with a mission to map the surface of Venus with radar. The high-resolution images it obtained during its 4½ years of operation far surpassed all prior maps and were comparable to visible-light photographs of other planets. Magellan imaged over 98% of the Venusian surface by radar, and mapped 95% of its gravity field. In 1994, at the end of its mission, Magellan was sent to its destruction into the atmosphere of Venus to quantify its density. Venus was observed by the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft during fly-bys on their respective missions to the outer planets, but Magellan would be the last dedicated mission to Venus for over a decade.
NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury performed two fly-bys of Venus in October 2006 and June 2007, to slow its trajectory for an eventual orbital insertion of Mercury in March 2011. MESSENGER collected scientific data on both those fly-bys.
The Venus Express probe was designed and built by the European Space Agency. Launched on November 9, 2005 by a Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket procured through Starsem, it successfully assumed a polar orbit around Venus on April 11, 2006. The probe is undertaking a detailed study of the Venusian atmosphere and clouds, including mapping of the planet's plasma environment and surface characteristics, particularly temperatures. One of the first results emerging from Venus Express is the discovery that a huge double atmospheric vortex exists at the south pole of the planet.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) devised a Venus orbiter, Akatsuki (formerly "Planet-C"), which was launched on May 20, 2010, but the craft failed to enter orbit in December 2010. Hopes remain that the probe can successfully hibernate and make another insertion attempt in six years. Planned investigations included surface imaging with an infrared camera and experiments designed to confirm the presence of lightning, as well as the determination of the existence of current surface volcanism.
Under its New Frontiers Program, NASA has proposed a lander mission called the Venus In-Situ Explorer to land on Venus to study surface conditions and investigate the elemental and mineralogical features of the regolith. The probe would be equipped with a core sampler to drill into the surface and study pristine rock samples not weathered by the very harsh surface conditions. A Venus atmospheric and surface probe mission, "Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer" (SAGE), was selected by NASA as a candidate mission study in the 2009 New Frontiers selection, but the mission was not selected for flight.
The Venera-D (Russian: Венера-Д) probe is a proposed Russian space probe to Venus, to be launched around 2016, with its goal to make remote-sensing observations around the planet Venus and deploying a lander, based on the Venera design, capable of surviving for a long duration on the planet's surface. Other proposed Venus exploration concepts include rovers, balloons, and airplanes.
A manned Venus fly-by mission, using Apollo program hardware, was proposed in the late 1960s. The mission was planned to launch in late October or early November 1973, and would have used a Saturn V to send three men to fly past Venus in a flight lasting approximately one year. The spacecraft would have passed approximately 5,000 kilometres from the surface of Venus about four months later.
This is a list of attempted and successful spacecraft that have left Earth to explore Venus more closely. Venus has also been imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in Earth orbit, and distant telescopic observations is another source of information about Venus.
|Mission||Launch||Elements and Result||Notes|
|Sputnik 7||February 4, 1961||Impact (attempted)|
|Venera 1||February 12, 1961||Fly-by (contact lost)|
|Mariner 1||July 22, 1962||Fly-by (launch failure)|
|Sputnik 19||August 25, 1962||Fly-by (attempted)|
|Mariner 2||August 27, 1962||Fly-by|
|Sputnik 20||September 1, 1962||Fly-by (attempted)|
|Sputnik 21||September 12, 1962||Fly-by (attempted)|
|Cosmos 21||November 11, 1963||Attempted Venera test flight?|
|Venera 1964A||February 19, 1964||Fly-by (launch failure)|
|Venera 1964B||March 1, 1964||Fly-by (launch failure)|
|Cosmos 27||March 27, 1964||Fly-by (attempted)|
|Zond 1||April 2, 1964||Fly-by (contact lost)|
|Venera 2||November 12, 1965||Fly-by (contact lost)|
|Venera 3||November 16, 1965||Lander (contact lost)|
|Cosmos 96||November 23, 1965||Lander (attempted?)|
|Venera 1965A||November 23, 1965||Fly-by (launch failure)|
|Venera 4||June 12, 1967||Probe|
|Mariner 5||June 14, 1967||Fly-by|
|Cosmos 167||June 17, 1967||Probe (attempted)|
|Venera 5||January 5, 1969||Probe|
|Venera 6||January 10, 1969||Probe|
|Venera 7||August 17, 1970||Lander|
|Cosmos 359||August 22, 1970||Probe (attempted)|
|Venera 8||March 27, 1972||Probe|
|Cosmos 482||March 31, 1972||Probe (attempted)|
|Mariner 10||November 4, 1973||Fly-by||Mercury fly-by|
|Venera 9||June 8, 1975||Orbiter and lander|
|Venera 10||June 14, 1975||Orbiter and lander|
|Pioneer Venus 1||May 20, 1978||Orbiter|
|Pioneer Venus 2||August 8, 1978||Probes|
|Venera 11||September 9, 1978||Fly-by bus and lander|
|Venera 12||September 14, 1978||Fly-by bus and lander|
|Venera 13||October 30, 1981||Fly-by bus and lander|
|Venera 14||November 4, 1981||Fly-by bus and lander|
|Venera 15||June 2, 1983||Orbiter|
|Venera 16||June 7, 1983||Orbiter|
|Vega 1||December 15, 1984||Lander and balloon||Comet Halley fly-by|
|Vega 2||December 21, 1984||Lander and balloon||Comet Halley fly-by|
|Magellan||May 4, 1989||Orbiter|
|Galileo||October 18, 1989||Fly-by||Jupiter orbiter/probe|
|Cassini||October 15, 1997||Fly-by||Saturn orbiter|
|MESSENGER||August 3, 2004||Flyby (x2)||Mercury orbiter|
|Venus Express||November 9, 2005||Orbiter|
|Akatsuki||December 7, 2010||Orbiter (attempted)||Possible reattempt in 2016|
|BepiColombo||July 2014||Fly-by (x2, planned)||Planned Mercury orbiter|
The adjective Venusian is commonly used for items related to Venus, though the Latin adjective is the rarely used Venerean; the archaic Cytherean is still occasionally encountered. Venus is the only planet in the Solar System that is named after a female figure.[a] (Three dwarf planets – Ceres, Eris and Haumea – along with many of the first discovered asteroids and a number of moons (such as the Galilean moons) also have feminine names. Earth and its moon also have feminine names in many languages—Gaia/Terra, Selene/Luna—but the female mythological figures who personified them were named after them, not the other way around.)
The astronomical symbol for Venus is the same as that used in biology for the female sex: a circle with a small cross beneath. The Venus symbol also represents femininity, and in Western alchemy stood for the metal copper. Polished copper has been used for mirrors from antiquity, and the symbol for Venus has sometimes been understood to stand for the mirror of the goddess.
As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been known since prehistoric times and as such has gained an entrenched position in human culture. It is described in Babylonian cuneiformic texts such as the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, which relates observations that possibly date from 1600 BC. The Babylonians named the planet Ishtar (Sumerian Inanna), the personification of womanhood, and goddess of love. She had a dual role as a goddess of war, thereby representing a deity that presided over birth and death.
The Ancient Egyptians believed Venus to be two separate bodies and knew the morning star as Tioumoutiri and the evening star as Ouaiti. Likewise, believing Venus to be two bodies, the Ancient Greeks called the morning star Φωσφόρος, Phosphoros (Latinized Phosphorus), the "Bringer of Light" or Ἐωσφόρος, Eosphoros (Latinized Eosphorus), the "Bringer of Dawn". The evening star they called Hesperos (Latinized Hesperus) (Ἓσπερος, the "star of the evening"). By Hellenistic times, the ancient Greeks realized the two were the same planet, which they named after their goddess of love, Aphrodite (Phoenician Astarte). Hesperos would be translated into Latin as Vesper and Phosphoros as Lucifer ("Light Bearer"), a poetic term later used to refer to the fallen angel cast out of heaven.[b] The Romans, who derived much of their religious pantheon from the Greek tradition, named the planet Venus after their goddess of love. Pliny the Elder (Natural History, ii,37) identified the planet Venus with Isis.
In Iranian mythology, especially in Persian mythology, the planet usually corresponds to the goddess Anahita. In some parts of Pahlavi literature the deities Aredvi Sura and Anahita are regarded as separate entities, the first one as a personification of the mythical river and the latter as a goddess of fertility which is associated with the planet Venus. As the goddess Aredvi Sura Anahita—and simply called Anahita as well—both deities are unified in other descriptions, e. g. in the Greater Bundahishn, and are represented by the planet. In the Avestan text Mehr Yasht (Yasht 10) there is a possible early link to Mithra. The Persian name of the planet today is "Nahid" which derives from Anahita and later in history from the Pahlavi language Anahid.
The planet Venus was important to the Maya civilization, who developed a religious calendar based in part upon its motions, and held the motions of Venus to determine the propitious time for events such as war. They named it Noh Ek', the Great Star, and Xux Ek', the Wasp Star. The Maya were aware of the planet's synodic period, and could compute it to within a hundredth part of a day.
Venus is important in many Australian aboriginal cultures, such as that of the Yolngu people in Northern Australia. The Yolngu gather after sunset to await the rising of Venus, which they call Barnumbirr. As she approaches, in the early hours before dawn, she draws behind her a rope of light attached to the Earth, and along this rope, with the aid of a richly decorated "Morning Star Pole", the people are able to communicate with their dead loved ones, showing that they still love and remember them. Barnumbirr is also an important creator-spirit in the Dreaming, and "sang" much of the country into life.
Venus plays a prominent role in Pawnee mythology. The Pawnee, a North American native tribe, until as late as 1838, practiced a morning star ritual in which a girl was sacrificed to the morning star. In the metaphysical system of Theosophy, it is believed that on the etheric plane of Venus there is a civilization that existed hundreds of millions of years before Earth's and it is also believed that the governing deity of Earth, Sanat Kumara, is from Venus.
The impenetrable Venusian cloud cover gave science fiction writers free rein to speculate on conditions at its surface; all the more so when early observations showed that not only was it very similar in size to Earth, it possessed a substantial atmosphere. Closer to the Sun than Earth, the planet was frequently depicted as warmer, but still habitable by humans. The genre reached its peak between the 1930s and 1950s, at a time when science had revealed some aspects of Venus, but not yet the harsh reality of its surface conditions. Findings from the first missions to Venus showed the reality to be very different, and brought this particular genre to an end. As scientific knowledge of Venus advanced, so science fiction authors endeavored to keep pace, particularly by conjecturing human attempts to terraform Venus.
Perhaps the strangest appearance of Venus in literature is as the harbinger of destruction in Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision (1950). In this intensely controversial book, Velikovsky argued that many seemingly unbelievable stories in the Old Testament are true recollections of times when Venus nearly collided with the Earth — when it was still a comet and had not yet become the docile planet that we know today. He contended that Venus caused most of the strange events of the Exodus. He cites legends in many other cultures (such as Greek, Mexican, Chinese and Indian) indicating that the effects of the near-collision were global. The scientific community rejected his wildly unorthodox book, but it became a bestseller.
||This section may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. (June 2012)|
||This section may contain unsourced predictions, speculative material or accounts of events that might not occur. Please help improve it by removing unsourced speculative content. (June 2012)|
Owing to its extremely hostile conditions, a surface colony on Venus is out of the question with current technology. However, the atmospheric pressure and temperature approximately fifty kilometres above the surface are similar to those at the Earth's surface and Earth air (nitrogen and oxygen) would be a lifting gas in the Venusian atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide. This has led to proposals for extensive "floating cities" in the Venusian atmosphere. Aerostats (lighter-than-air balloons) could be used for initial exploration and ultimately for permanent settlements. Among the many engineering challenges are the dangerous amounts of sulfuric acid at these heights.
|Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Venus|
|Find more about Venus on Wikipedia's sister projects:|
|Definitions and translations from Wiktionary
|Images and media from Commons
|Learning resources from Wikiversity
|News stories from Wikinews
|Quotations from Wikiquote
|Source texts from Wikisource
|Textbooks from Wikibooks
Dictionary and translator for handheld
New : sensagent is now available on your handheld
A windows (pop-into) of information (full-content of Sensagent) triggered by double-clicking any word on your webpage. Give contextual explanation and translation from your sites !
With a SensagentBox, visitors to your site can access reliable information on over 5 million pages provided by Sensagent.com. Choose the design that fits your site.
Improve your site content
Add new content to your site from Sensagent by XML.
Crawl products or adds
Get XML access to reach the best products.
Index images and define metadata
Get XML access to fix the meaning of your metadata.
Please, email us to describe your idea.
Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
Boggle gives you 3 minutes to find as many words (3 letters or more) as you can in a grid of 16 letters. You can also try the grid of 16 letters. Letters must be adjacent and longer words score better. See if you can get into the grid Hall of Fame !
Change the target language to find translations.
Tips: browse the semantic fields (see From ideas to words) in two languages to learn more.