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Similar in size and structure to Earth, Venus has been called Earth's twin. These are not identical twins, however – there are radical differences between the two worlds.

Venus has a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and it’s perpetually shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of mostly sulfuric acid that trap heat, causing a runaway greenhouse effect. It’s the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. Venus has crushing air pressure at its surface – more than 90 times that of Earth – similar to the pressure you'd encounter a mile below the ocean on Earth.

Venus was the first planet to be explored by a spacecraft – NASA’s Mariner 2 successfully flew by and scanned the cloud-covered world on Dec. 14, 1962. Since then, numerous spacecraft from the U.S. and other space agencies have explored Venus, including NASA’s Magellan, which mapped the planet's surface with radar. The former Soviet Union is the only nation to land on the surface of Venus to date, though the spacecraft did not survive long in the harsh environment.

Explore Venus ›

Ten Things to Know About Venus

10 Need-to-Know Things About Venus

1

Earth-Sized

If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, the Earth and Venus would each be about the size of a nickel.  

2

Second Rock

Venus orbits our Sun, a star. Venus is the second closest planet to the sun at a distance of about 67 million miles (108 million km).

3

A Day Longer Than a Year

One day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days because Venus spins backwards, with its sun rising in the west and setting in the east.

Chasing Clouds on Venus

4

Diverse Terrain

Venus' solid surface is a volcanic landscape covered with extensive plains featuring high volcanic mountains and vast ridged plateaus.

5

Moonless and Ringless

Venus has no moons and no rings.

6

Greenhouse Effect

The planet’s surface temperature is about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius)—hot enough to melt lead.

7

Water on Venus

Many scientists believe water once existed on the surface. Future Venus explorers will search for evidence of an ancient ocean.

8

Many Visitors

More than 40 spacecraft have explored Venus. The ‘90s Magellan mission mapped the planet's surface and Akatsuki is currently orbiting Venus.

9

Life on Venus

Venus’ extreme temperatures and acidic clouds make it an unlikely place for life as we know it.

10

Super Rotating Atmosphere

While the surface rotates slowly, the winds blow at hurricane force, sending clouds completely around the planet every five days.

Venus - 3-D Perspective View of Sapas Mons

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

The Soviet Union’s Venera 13 survived the intense heat and crushing pressure of Venus’ surface for more than two hours. Engineers from several nations are currently studying methods to extend the life of robotic spacecraft in the extreme environment.

Pop Culture

Pop Culture

Named after the goddess of love and beauty, Venus has become nearly synonymous with "woman" in popular culture, as referenced by the famous relationship guide Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. As a solar system locale, Venus was a popular destination for early 20th century science fiction writers; before we knew about what lay beneath Venus' mysterious cloud cover, writers could speculate about a more hospitable planet and its possible inhabitants.

More recently, Venus has been a backdrop for video games such as Transhuman Space, Battlezone and Destiny. And in the Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog, Ray the firefly falls in love with Venus, "the evening star," as he has mistaken it for another firefly.

Kid-Friendly Venus

Illustration of Venus

Kid-Friendly Venus

Even though Venus isn't the closest planet to the Sun, it is still the hottest. It has a thick atmosphere full of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and clouds made of sulfuric acid. The atmosphere traps heat and keeps Venus toasty warm. It's so hot on Venus, metals like lead would be puddles of melted liquid.

Venus looks like a very active planet. It has mountains and volcanoes. Venus is similar in size to Earth. Earth is just a little bit bigger.

Venus is unusual because it spins the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets. And its rotation is very slow.

Visit NASA Space Place for more kid-friendly facts.

NASA Space Place: All About Venus ›

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