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  • Sometimes called Earth's 'evil twin', Venus has an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than Earth, sulfuric acid rain, an average surface temperature of almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit and over 1,000 volcanoes (an unknown number of which are active). Not exactly the ideal vacation spot.

  • Venus is also quite similar to Earth in size and mass.

  • Venus is thought to have had a similar climate to Earth billions of years ago, perhaps even having water. Why Venus evolved so differently than Earth remains a mystery.

  • Like Uranus, Venus rotates clockwise whereas all the other planets rotate counter-clockwise.

  • Most of Venus' surface has been shaped by volcanic activity. In fact, 80% of the surface consists of plains carved out by lava flows.

  • A day on Venus takes 243 Earth days while a year takes 225 Earth days. Venus' rotation appears to be slowing down each year, possibly due to friction caused by its own atmosphere.

  • Venus is an example of a runaway greenhouse effect with CO2 comprising 96.5 percent of its incredibly thick atmosphere. There has been absolutely no oxygen detected. Winds move at up to 450 mph or roughly 60 times the speed of the planet's rotation.

  • Based on studies of extremophile organisms on Earth, scientists theorize that Venus' upper atmosphere may hold life. It may one day even hold human life. NASA, Russian scientists and sci-fi novelists alike have proposed various conceptions of a cloud colony throughout the years.

  • colony
    A NASA proposal for a Venus cloud colony.
  • Because of its incredibly thick atmosphere, pictures of Venus have largely been restricted to non-visible spectra such as radar, infrared and UV, all taken from orbit.

  • maxwell
    A radar image of Maxwell Montes, the highest peak on Venus as taken by the Magellan probe. The bright white features are thought to result from heavy metal deposits such as lead sulfide and tellurium.

  • However, a lucky few landers have managed to snap a few surface shots of Venus before being destroyed by the planet's hellish conditions.

  • venera
    The first color photo of Venus's surface. Taken by the Soviet Venera 13 probe in 1982. The probe only managed to send data for two hours. No probe has landed on Venus since.

    Venus' ominous CO2 haze is shown in this eerie shot taken by Venera 13.

By Aaron Feigenbaum