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Venus is a Very Hot Place

Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system.  Although it is further from the Sun than Mercury,

and only gets a quarter of the concentration of heat and light as Mercury, Venus has the strongest Greenhouse Effect of all the planets of the sun.  The temperature at the surface of Venus is about 460 degrees C (860 Degrees F), while the hot side of Mercury is about 420 degrees C.   As a comparison, Lead melts at 327 Degrees C and Zinc melts at 420 degrees C; so there are many things that we are accustomed to think of as solid that are liquid on Venus’s surface.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere is much thicker than that of the earth, and contains about 95 percent Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and has clouds of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).  The atmospheric pressure at the surface of this hot planet is 92 times as high as our air pressure at sea level.

The upper parts of the atmosphere are cooler, but not suitable for us to breathe.  As well as having no free oxygen, there are inconvenient things like sulphuric acid in the atmosphere.

Venus in Fiction

The clouds of Venus obscured the surface of our nearest planetary neighbour, and led people to speculate that the planet was either covered by oceans, or with swampy jungle.

In the 1950’s, there were many stories written about Venus based on this nice idea.  I reread a book recently.  It is an excellent book mainly based in the Oceans of the Earth, called The Deep Range
.  
A minor aside in this book mentioned that the space agency was recruiting people for work in the oceans of Venus.  The author, Arthur C. Clarke was a visionary with an excellent knowledge of science, and his book would have been up to date with the current beliefs.  The book was published in 1957.

 

While the discovery of more of the nature of Venus stopped this particular type of fiction, several authors have written stories based on our current beliefs about Venus. One of the earlier ones was The Space Merchants

by Frederick Pohl and CM Kornbluth.  Surprisingly this was published in 1952, so these two authors were way ahead of their time.
  A more recent one is Venus by Ben Bova.  Both these books are well worth reading.








Venus
Picture from NASA
 
 
 
 
Radar image of the volcano Sapas Mons on Venus
Picture from NASA.