Above: A composite of images taken by the Magellan spacecraft, showing the northern hemisphere of Venus, looking down on the north pole (Credit: NASA/JPL).
Quick Fact File
12,107 km – the diameter (7,523 miles) of the planet.
6,052 km – the equatorial radius (3,761 miles).
95% – comparison in size to Earth.
38,025 km – the equatorial circumference (23,628 miles).
460,234,317 km² – the surface area (177,697,463 mi²).
109 million km – maximum distance from the Sun (68 million miles).
107 million km – minimum distance from the Sun (66 million miles).
108 million km – average distance from the Sun (67 million miles).
40 million km – closest distance to Earth (25 million miles).
225 days – the orbital period of the planet Venus – the time taken to orbit the Sun in Earth days (224.701 days).
244 days – the rotation period – the time taken for the planet to rotate on its own axis (243.686 days).
480°C – the surface temperature (900°F) of Venus, a temperature that would be sufficient to melt lead and making life impossible. Although the planet is twice as far from the sun as Mercury, the temperature of Venus is actually higher, due to the greenhouse effect; the thick carbon dioxide rich atmosphere retains more of the sun’s heat.
126,071 km/h – the speed that Venus travels through space, relative to the sun (78,337 mph); it is the second fastest of the planets, only slower than the planet Mercury.
35.02 km/s – that speed expressed in terms of distance covered each second (21.76 mi/s).
1962 – the year in which Mariner 2 flew past Venus, revealing the high-temperature of the planet. Prior to this it had been suggested that there may be oceans on the planet’s surface.
65% – the amount of the planet’s surface that consists of rolling plains.
Did You Know?
Scientists think the Earth and Venus may once have shared similar climates and characteristics. However, as the sun grew warmer, Venus dried up and changed to become the sulphurous, hot, and inhospitable place that it is today.
11 km – the height (6.8 mi) of Maxwell Montes, the tallest mountain range on Venus.
6.4 km – the height (4 mi) of the tallest peak of the Maxwell Montes, Skadi Mons.
4 days – the time it takes the upper clouds to rotate around the planet.
Above: The first close up image ever captured of Venus, using an ultraviolet filter and colour-enhancement to differentiate the planet’s cloudy atmosphere, recorded by Mariner 10 on 05 February 1974 (Credit: NASA).
225 days – the length of a year on Venus, measured in Earth days (224.701 days).
243 days – the time it takes Venus to rotates on its own axis, making Venus unique amongst our planets in having an axial rotation that is longer than the time taken to rotate around the sun.
118 days – the time between sunrises on Venus, due to its rotational cycle and the fact that, uniquely, it rotates backwards (east to west instead of west to east).
Did You Know?
The radar scans captured by Magellan revealed a surface with very few small impact craters. This is because smaller meteorites burn up as they enter the thick atmosphere surrounding the planet.
96.5% – the amount of the atmosphere that is comprised of carbon dioxide (Nitrogen makes up most of the rest, at 3.5%).
90 – the number of times greater the atmospheric pressure is on the surface of Venus compared to Earth at sea level.
Above: The transit of Venus across the face of the sun, captured in 2012 (Credit: NASA/SDO, AIA).
2004 – the year in which one of the rarest of the predictable solar events took place, the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, an event that comes in pairs.
8 years – the period between each of the transits in a pair (the second transit occured in 2012).
105-121 years – the duration between each pairs of these events.
2117 – the next year in which Venus will transit the face of the sun.