Because the surface of Venus is obscured by thick clouds in its atmosphere, it reflects light very strongly. The Magellan space craft managed to map the surface of Venus. This revealed 1600 major volcanos, mountains, large highland terrains, and vast lava plains.

More than 1,000 volcanoes or volcanic centers larger than 20 km in diameter dot the surface of Venus. There may be close to a million volcanic centers that are over 1 km in diameter. Much of the surface is covered by vast lava flows. In the north, an elevated region named Ishtar Terra is a lava-filled basin larger than the continental United States. Near the equator, the Aphrodite Terra highlands, more than half the size of Africa, extend for almost 10,000 km. Volcanic flows have also produced long, sinuous chan-nels extending for hundreds of kilometers.


The atmosphere on Venus is very thick, at 90 times heavier than Earth's. This is the equivalent pressure a submarine experiences at 3000 feet below sea level. Because the atmosphere is composed mostly of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, the temperatures on Venus are extremely high. This results in temperatures of about 460°C, or 860°F. The surface of Venus experiences acid rain, due to the clouds of sulfuric acid clouds.

Other atmospheric gases include nitrogen, and traces of carbon monoxide, argon, sulfur dioxide, and water vapor.


The core of Venus is thought to be similar to Earth's - with a rocky mantle, molten core and a crust.


The exact date of Venus' discovery is not knows, due to the fact that it is so obvious in the sky. However, during the 1950s, astronomer Robert Richardson noticed that Venus rotates "backwards". This means that it rotates in the opposite way than Earth, and most of the other planets.


1. - National Weather Service Forecast Office
2. - NASA SpaceLink

Diameter: 12,104 km (7,522 miles)
Mass: 4.87x10^24 kilograms
Density: 5,243 kg/m^3
Minimum Distance from Sun: 108 million km
Maximum Distance from Sun: 109 million km
Minimum Distance from Earth: 40 million km
Name in Roman/Greek Mythology: Venus/Aphroditie
Rotation Period around Axis: 243 days (retrograde)
Revolution Period: 0.62 years
Tilt of Axis: 177-178°
Surface Gravity: 8.87 m/s^2
Temperature Range: 457° C (855° F)
Average Surface Temperature: 730K