The Road to the Discovery of Earth’s Sister, Venus

Earth and Venus
Earth and Venus

The planet Venus is Earth’s nearest neighbor. The name, Venus, is derived from the Greek God Venus. From Earth, Venus can be observed before sunrise and after sunset. It is the only planet that orbits clockwise. In ancient Hindu astrology, Venus is called Shukra. It was observed by the Babylonians in the early 2000BCE and was called planet Ishtar, the goddess of womanhood and love.

Venus was known as the nomadic star long before the telescope’s invention. The Westerners thought Venus to be two separate planets in the early morning and late evening. According to the written documents, Pythagoras was the first to find out in the 6th century that the planet was one. He thought that Venus orbited around Earth. Galileo noticed in the 17th century that Venus had characteristics like the moon.

A Russian prodigy named Mikhail Lomonosov had first noticed Venus’s atmosphere in the year 1761. Johann Schroter made further observations in 1790. He figured out that Venus appeared like a crescent. Chester Smith Lyman was the first to discover the ring around the planet’s dark side. The atmosphere of Venus is very dense, which causes a problem for scientists who wanted to understand its rotation period. However, Giovanni Cassini and Johan Schroter thought that Venus had a 24 hours rotation period.

Venus has some features which are similar to Earth. Venus contains silicon rocks on its surface, just like our Earth. The makeup and size are identical to Earth. Moreover, Earth and Venus have the same core that is made up of iron deposits, and the center of Venus is very similar to that of our planet. However, Venus’s atmosphere is pretty dense for hosting life. Venus is filled with toxic sulfuric acid clouds, and the relentless heat dries up all water bodies. Its outer surface is a lot hotter than Mercury’s. .

There have been several space probe missions to Venus. The first one was the Russian Venera 1. However, it lost contact with Earth after a week. The first spacecraft (successful) that came close to Venus was America’s Mariner 2 in the year 1962 during Cold War’s Space Race. There have been nearly 40 spacecraft visits to Venus.

Here are 6 interesting facts about Venus:

  1. A day on Venus is longer than a year.
  2. Venus is hotter than Mercury.
  3. Venus spins clockwise on its axis.
  4. Venus is the second brightest celestial object in the night sky after the moon.
  5. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of beauty and love.
  6. Venus has nearly 100 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth.

Exploration of Venus in Brief

Venus was the first planet to be properly explored by a spacecraft – NASA’s Mariner 2 flew by and scanned the cloud-covered wonder on December 14th in the year 1962. Since then, various spacecraft from the U.S. and other space agencies from around the globe have explored Venus, including NASA’s historic Magellan, which correctly mapped the planet’s surface with radar. The former Soviet Union (USSR) is the only country to land on the surface of Venus to this day, though the spacecraft did not survive long due to Venus’s harsh environment.

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