Venus, truly a thing of beauty


Venus is a strange planet in many ways.

It is upside down , so if you lived there the sun would rise in the west. It has the thickest, most poisonous atmosphere in the solar system. This leads to a runaway greenhouse effect making it the hottest planet in the solar system. So if lived on Venus the direction of sunrise would be the least of your worries. You would be more concerned about being squashed, burned by acid clouds and roasted. All this of course from a planet associated with love, beauty, and all things pretty.

New results from the Venus express satellite show why I think Venus remains beautiful. Venus may have a surprisingly cold layer that’s chillier than any part of our own planet’s atmosphere. This region may be cool enough for carbon dioxide snow or ice to form. The strangely cold region lies about 78 miles (125 kilometers) above the planet’s surface, and appears to host temperatures around minus 283 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 175 degrees Celsius). It’s sandwiched between warmer layers on both sides. “Since the temperature at some heights dips below the freezing temperature of carbon dioxide, we suspect that carbon dioxide ice might form there,” said Arnaud Mahieux of the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, who is lead author of the paper reporting the results in the Journal of Geophysical Research. If there is ice or snow made of carbon dioxide there, it should be very reflective, creating especially bright spots on Venus.

This is the real beauty of science- just when you think you have something figured out, and you just maybe understand it, along comes a new result and we have to think again.


2 comments on “Venus, truly a thing of beauty

  1. Although Venus is associated with beauty and love, you still haven’t quite convinced me that minus 283 degrees Fahrenheit would be a beautiful place to be! This planet is fascinating I agree. Where do you find this cold region on Venus? And how did satellites find it?


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