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Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Mar 30, 2011, 7:00 UTC

Sen—Today Venus is hell-like with a surface temperature of 462 degrees Celsius - hot enough to melt lead. The Sun's heat is unable to escape because its trapped by a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere. Humans could not land on the surface as they would melt and be crushed by the pressure of the atmosphere.

Venus is very similar in size to the Earth with a diameter of 12,100 kilometres (7,500 miles) compared to Earth's 7,700 miles.

Venus is one of the four inner 'rocky' planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though it is further from the Sun than Mercury. Why? Because the heat from the Sun is trapped by a very dense atmosphere made up primarily of carbon dioxide. The planet is heated up by the Sun and the heat is trapped because the heat which is radiated out from the surface as infrared light is absorbed and trapped by greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that make up the atmosphere. Whilst the right balance of greenhouse gases is vital for Earth to retain heat from the Sun, Venus has the balance wrong with too much absorbtion - this 'runaway' greenhouse effect has choked the planet to death.

It is interesting to contrast Venus with Earth because they are similar in size and are both rocky planets in the inner solar system. Yet the application of the laws of the universe has had dramatically different effects on the two planets.

From Earth's viewpoint, Venus is the brightest object in the night sky apart from our moon and is sometimes called the Evening Star or the Morning Star, though of course these are misnomers as Venus is one of the planets.

Although its now a lifeless hellish place, Venus was probably a very different place when it formed. Its interesting to contrast Venus's evolution with that of Earth. Although neighbours and similar in size, and subject to the laws of physics that are universal, one planet evolved into a lifeless uninhabitable place and one planet evolved to a planet that gave birth to intelligent beings capable of space exploration.

Like Mercury, Venus does not have a moon.