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  • Can Venus be seen from Earth with the naked eye?
    Yes, Venus can often be seen with the naked eye and is the third brightest natural object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, except when there is a supernova, comet or asteroid "nearby". It is often referred to as the "Morning Star" or "Evening Star" because it can be seen just before sunrise or just after sunset.
  • Why is Venus known as Earth’s “Sister Planet” and its “Evil Twin”?
    Both Earth and Venus are terrestrial planets situated within the Sun's Habitable Zone. Venus is the second planet from the Sun (Earth is the third) and our closest planetary neighbor. It is roughly the same size, density, mass, volume, and age as Earth, so it is generally known as our “Sister Planet”. Observations also suggest that Venus may have been home to water oceans in its early history, leading some to speculate that it may once have been habitable, like Earth. However, despite all of the similarities, Venus is a quite hostile planet for human life, having suffered through runaway greenhouse effects that created a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide, surface pressure more than 90 times Earth’s, and surface temperatures that could melt lead (900F / 475C). This has earned Venus its other nickname of our “Evil Twin”.
  • Why is Venus called Venus?
    The ancient Romans could observe 7 bright objects in the sky: the Sun, the Moon, and the 5 brightest planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). These planets were all named after their most important gods. Venus, the third brightest object after the Sun and Moon, was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, and is the only planet named after a female god.
  • Is there life on Venus?
    Further research and missions are needed to confirm this. However, recent studies have suggested the presence of phosphine gas in the planet's atmosphere, which could be a sign of microbial life.
  • What is the terrain like on Venus?
    The surface of Venus is covered in volcanic terrain, with large shield volcanoes, lava plains, and impact craters. The planet's surface is also marked by thousands of small volcanic features known as "pancake domes”.
  • What is the atmosphere like on Venus?
    Venus has a thick, toxic atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is also known for its intense greenhouse effect, which traps heat and contributes to the planet's high surface temperature. There are constant winds of more than 200 mph (320 kph) and cause the entire atmosphere to circle the planet every four days.
  • How long is a Venusian day and year?
    Venus rotates on its axis extremely slowly, making its day as long as 243 Earth days. On the other hand, it revolves around the Sun quite quickly, making its year as long as 225 Earth days. This means that its day is actually longer than its year.
  • Which direction does Venus rotate?
    Venus is unique within our solar system in that it rotates clockwise on its axis, which is the inverse of Earth and every other planet. This means that on Venus the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East.
  • Does Venus have a magnetic field?
    Unlike Earth, Venus does not have its own internally generated magnetic field. However, it does have a relatively weak induced magnetic field, which is created when the Sun’s magnetic field interacts with the planet’s outer atmosphere.
  • How long does it take to travel to Venus?
    The travel time to Venus depends on the method of transportation. A spacecraft traveling to Venus from Earth would take around 5 months to reach the planet.
  • Have any probes ever been to Venus?
    Yes, in fact, over 40 spacecraft have been launched for Venus by the Soviet Union, the United States, the European Space Agency, and Japan. 31 of these recorded missions successfully reached Venus. From 1961 to 1983, the Soviet Union’s Venera program sent 16 probes to Venus, with varying levels of success on its orbiters and landers. Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter is the only Venus mission currently operating.
  • Are there any future government missions being planned for Venus?
    Yes, there have been several announced Venus missions, including NASA’s DAVINCI and VERITAS missions, ESA’s EnVision mission, Russia’s Venera-D mission, and India’s Shukrayaan-1 mission, all likely launching by 2030.
  • Are there any future private missions being planned for Venus?
    Yes, there has been one privately funded Venus mission announced by Rocket Lab (NASDAQ: RKLB), which is planning a 2025 launch date.
  • Have any humans ever been to Venus?
    No. In fact, the furthest from Earth that any humans have ventured is to the Moon during the U.S. Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. That journey takes only 3 days, which is a small fraction of how long it takes to get to any other body in the solar system.
  • Is it possible for humans to live on Venus?
    No, and Yes. No, it is currently not possible for humans to live on the surface of Venus. The planet's surface temperature and atmospheric pressure are both extremely high, which would make it impossible for humans to survive without advanced technology. However, it seems feasible that humans could potentially live in the Venusian atmosphere, approximately 50km (30 miles) above the surface, which is roughly the equivalent height of Earth’s stratosphere.
  • What are the advantages to humans living in the Venusian atmosphere?
    The primary advantage is gravity. Venus exerts a gravitational pull equal to approximately 98% of Earth’s (by comparison, the Moon is 16% and Mars is 38%). Also, at the right altitude, the atmospheric pressure is similar to that of Earth at sea level (1 ATM), the temperature is fairly tolerable (25C-40C, 77F-104F), and there is sufficient protection from the Sun’s radiation. Finally, Venus is relatively close to Earth and in a similar orbit, which makes it quite convenient for interplanetary launches and short transit times, which reduces human travelers’ exposure to microgravity and solar radiation.
  • What are the risks to humans living in the Venusian atmosphere?
    The two biggest risks are the unbreathable carbon dioxide air and the toxic sulfuric acid clouds. Then again, we already have technology here on Earth that can offset both risks.
  • What local resources could humans extract from Venus?
    This is an area where significantly more research and analysis is needed. However, at a minimum, we currently know that we could potentially extract carbon from the atmosphere to create building materials and sulfur from the clouds to make fertilizer and other items.
  • What resources would humans likely have to import to Venus?
    As far as basic materials, we would likely need to bring nitrogen to create breathable air and fluorine to create polytetrafluoroethylene (i.e., Teflon). These would be specific to Venus, but there are other requirements common with any other offworld community, such as initial food sources.
  • Does NASA (or any other civil space agency) have any plans to send humans to Venus?
    No human mission to Venus has been announced, either by government space agencies or private organizations.
  • When it comes to human spaceflight, how are Venus, Mars, and the Moon different?
    Within the context of the solar system, the Moon is essentially our “backyard”, only an average of 240,000 miles (386,000 km) away from Earth, which means only about a 3-day trip to get there. From 1968 to 1972, NASA’s Apollo program sent nine crewed missions to the Moon, including six landings (Apollo 8 orbited the Moon, Apollo 10 conducted a test descent but did not attempt a landing, and Apollo 13 conducted a flyby but aborted its landing attempt due to mechanical failures). On the other hand, traveling from Earth to either Venus or Mars requires “interplanetary” human spaceflights, which no one has yet attempted. Venus is closer to Earth (average of ~25,000,000 miles (~40,000,000km) versus Mars’ ~140,000,000 miles (~225,000,000km), which means that there are more launch windows of opportunity and shorter transit times. In turn, this minimizes the risk of crews’ exposure to micro-gravity and solar radiation, as well as reducing the overall cost of the mission.
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