Venus; Magnificent Cosmos; Scientific American Presents; by Staff Editor; 2 Page(s)
Though named for the goddess of love, Venus is more like Earth's ugly sister. The two planets formed from the same general region of the solar nebula, suggesting that their compositions are basically similar. They are of roughly the same size, mass and density, and Venus orbits the sun at an average distance abou 70 percent that of Earth's.
But where Earth has temperatures and conditions conducive to life, a variety of environments and a robust magnetic field, Venus is a dry, hellish, high-pressure furnace whose magnetic field is not even strong enough to keep the solar wind from stripping away the upper atmosphere. Below ever present clouds of sulfuric acid and a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, the Venusian surface hits temperatures up to 450 degrees Celsius (842 degreea Fahrenheit).