Exploration on Venus, Essay Example

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Essay

Venus is the brightest star of the solar system after the sun and the moon. It is usually the first visible star at night, and the last star to disappear in the morning, due to its brightness. It is also the second planet from the sun in the solar system. Venus also has no moons. The rotation of Venus around the sun is very slow taking 243 earth days per Venus days and retrogrades east to west compared to the earths prograde west to east. This means that from Venus, the sun would come up in the west and go down in the east. Venus is not able to generate a magnetic field that is similar to that of the earth despite having a core iron content same as that of the earth, due to its slow rotation.

The earth has a protective layer known as the ozone layer, which shields and protects the earth from the sun’s ultra violet emission. Venus does not comprise an ozone layer. Consequently, the sun’s ultra violet radiations get into the Venus atmosphere directly. These breaks down the water molecules present into hydrogen and oxygen-making Venus have very little water present in it. Further to that, the periods of Venus rotations are synchronized in a manner that Venus shows the earth the same face each time the two planets are at their closest approach. The pressure of Venus’ atmosphere at the surface is 90 atmospheres comprising mostly of carbon dioxide. There are also several layers of cloud found several kilometers away and comprise of sulfuric acid. These dense atmospheres produce a run-away green house effect making the surface of Venus raise its temperature by four hundred degrees to over 740K. Probes that land in Venus survive only for a few hours before being destroyed by the inconceivable temperatures. Sulfur compounds are plenty in Venus clouds (Mayer, McCullough & Sloanaker). The corrosive chemistry in Venus and the dense moving atmosphere causes the surface to wither and erode. During the rotation of Venus, the top level of the cloud layers zips around the planet every four earth days. This zipping takes place with the hurricane- force winds that are travelling at about 360km per hour. The speed of wind within the clouds decreases with height of the clouds.

Venus is the planet that has similar relatively more similar characteristics to the earth as compared to other planets. In terms of the size, Venus is slightly smaller than the earth. Its diameter is 95% of the earth’s diameter with a mass of 80% the earths mass.  Both planets have craters showing that they both have young surfaces. The brightness of Venus and its periodic proximity to the earth makes Venus a great target for astrological studies.  Venus was also the first planet in the solar system in which radar signals bounced off. This took place in the late 1960s. The first radar observations made in Venus were by Venera 15 spacecraft, which was followed by Pioneer Venus orbiter and afterward by Magellan (Teitelbaum 7).

Venus was one of the earliest targets for spacecrafts Mariner 2 in 1962. This was the first successful spacecraft in the mariner series. Mariner 2 did not have imaging capabilities. The launch of the Mariner 2 spacecraft was the onset of the modern era of the Venus exploration by spacecraft. After its launch, several spacecrafts have gone to Venus, Mariner 5, Mariner 10, and   the soviet.  With the great advancements in the space missions, the view on Venus has also greatly changed enhancing great knowledge on the planet.

The Magellan spacecraft is the most advanced spacecraft to land on Venus.  It was made from a combination of scraps from other spacecrafts. It was able to obtain a better resolution and mapped 98% of Venus. It used synthetic radar to   enable it penetrate into the thick yellow vapor clouds. The data the Magellan collected was the greatest that no other spacecraft that earlier visited Venus has ever collected. It also collected the greatest number of images and accurately depicted the map of Venus.

The most recent spacecraft to land in Venus is the European Space agency’s Venus express. This spacecraft arrived in Venus in 2006. Since this time, it has been making continuous observations of the planet.

Works cited

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “Solar System Exploration.” 2011. Web 29 November 2011. <http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Venus&Display=OverviewLong>

Mayer, C.H.; T.P. McCollough, & R.M. Sloanaker. “Observations of Venus at 3.15-CM Wave Length”. Astrophysical Journal 127: 1–9. Bibcode 1958ApJ…127….1M. doi:10.1086/146433.

Teitelbaum, Michael. “Mars and Venus Space Exploration.” Navigators Series. Benchmark Education Company Publishers, 2011.

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