Although Venus is only the planet second nearest the sun, its dense, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect that warms up the Earth. As a result, temperatures on Venus reach 870 degrees F (465 degrees C), more than hot enough to melt lead.
Planet Venus explained.
The Galileo spacecraft took this picture of Venus in 1990. It has been filtered and colorized to enhance cloud forms. The sulfuric acid clouds are somewhat similar to fair weather clouds on Earth.
NASA’s Pioneer Venus Orbiter took this false color image of Venus’ clouds during its mission circling the cloudy world from 1979 into 1992. Some scientists have speculated that the planet’s clouds might be a cozy habitat for microbial life.
Composite, false-color view of Venus south pole captured by VIRTIS 12 April 2006 onboard Venus Express. Credits: ESA/INAF-IASF, Rome, Italy, and Observatoire de Paris, France
These six different infrared images (in false colour) were taken by the Ultraviolet/Visible/Near-Infrared spectrometer (VIRTIS) on board ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft between 12 and 19 April 2006, during the first capture orbit around the planet. Credits: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA
The temperature maps of the Venusian surface shown in this image were built thanks to direct measurements obtained by Venus Express’ VIRTIS instruments (left), compared with surface temperature predictions based on the Magellan topographic data obtained in the early 1990s (right). Credits: ESA/VIRTIS-VenusX Team
Images near the south pole of Venus on the night side, from the Ultraviolet, Visible and Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on ESAís Venus Express, reveal varying cloud systems loaded with turbulence. White areas represent more intense cloud concentrations. Credits: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA
A polar vortex in 3-D at Venus' south pole, as seen by the VIRTIS instrument on board ESA's Venus Express.
Venus’s atmosphere, taken by the Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) during Venus Express orbit number 459 on 24 July 2007. The view shows the southern hemisphere of the planet.
Venus' southern hemisphere, as seen in the ultraviolet.
This artist's illustration was originally released by the Venus Express spacecraft team. Wickramasinghe included the image as a figure in his article with the caption, "Evidence of solar wind excavating the atmosphere of Venus." Some scientists have objected to its being labeled as "evidence."
This animation of wind circulation on Venus is composed of images taken by the Visual and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on board ESA’s Venus Express between April 2006 and June 2007. The night-side of the planet is at the top in infrared, with the day-side at the bottom.
Venus, like Earth and Mars, is immersed in a flow of charged gas from the sun. Since Venus (and Mars) doesn't have a magnetic field, gases in the upper atmosphere become charged and interact with the solar wind. Scientists think the solar wind gives the charged particles enough energy to escape and that's why Venus is losing its atmosphere.
The first temperature map (centered at the south pole) of the planet's southern hemisphere at infrared wavelengths, charted with Venus Express's Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, VIRTIS. Higher temperatures (red) correspond to lower altitudes, while lower temperatures (blue) correspond to higher altitudes.
A montage of ultraviolet images taken during several Venus Express orbit with the Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) (each orbit is 24 hours long).
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3-D perspective of the Venusian volcano, Maat Mons generated from radar data from NASA’s Magellan mission.
This artist's impression of a future aerobot in the Venus atmosphere was taken from a presentation at the 2010 European Planetary Science Congress meeting in Rome.
This false-color ultraviolet image of the south pole of Venus was obtained by the Venus Monitoring Camera onboard The European Space Agency's Venus Express on Feb. 25, 2008 from a distance of about 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers). The octagonal shape of the image is due to the VMC field of view.
Mars, Earth, and Venus. Only Earth has an active magnetosphere, yet all three worlds are losing their atmospheres at similar rates.
This image shows thermal infrared radiation (at a wavelength of 5 microns) emitted by the cloud tops at the southern polar region of Venus on Jan. 20, 2008, as viewed by the VIRTIS imaging spectrometer on Venus Express. The white arrows show the atmospheric winds, measured by tracking the movement of cloud features.
This image shows the polar region of Venus, at a wavelength of 3.8 microns. The arrows denote the motion of the atmosphere around a center of rotation (marked with a white dot). The center of rotation is found to be displaced on average by about 300 km from the geographic south pole.
The hemispheric view of Venus, as revealed by more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, is centered on the South Pole.
This hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, and is centered on the planet's North Pole. This composite image was processed to improve contrast and to emphasize small features, and was color-coded to represent elevation.
This false-color image shows the volcano Sapas Mons, which is located in the broad equatorial rise called Atla Regio. The dark flows on the lower right are thought to be smoother than the brighter ones near the central part of the volcano. Many of the flows appear to have been erupted along the flanks of the volcano rather than from the summit. This type of flank eruption is common on large volcanoes on Earth, such as the Hawaiian volcanoes. If comparable to similar features on Earth, Atla Regio probably formed when large volumes of molten rock upwelled from areas within the interior of Venus known as 'hot spots.'