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Question

Why is Venus the hottest planet even though Mercury is closer to the sun?
Asked by: Akil

Answer

Mercury is closest to the sun, this is true. However, because of its proximity to the sun it lacks an atmosphere. Mercury's gaseous molecules reached escape velocity long ago and the atmosphere was 'burned off' leaving a vacant wasteland of rock with a similar surface to the earth's moon. There is nothing to hold in solar radiation, thus is flies out into space.

Venus Venus is a different story. Its atmosphere is primarily composed of carbon dioxide - the primary green house gas -, which acts like a one-way door. The solar heat enters, but it cannot leave. Thus, an oven is created. This is why Venus has no water. Pictures suggest that Venus once had an aqueous environment, but because of climatic changes and intense heat.... it evaporated.

Also, because of an overactive core, Venus seems to recreate its continents every X years. So, we do not expect to find fossils or many bacteria.
Answered by: Joel Levy, State University of New York - Albany


Science Quote

'The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative... '

Michio Kaku
(1947-)


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