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Earth and its neighbours. Computer composite image showing planet Earth flanked by its neighbours in the solar system; Venus (upper right) and Mars (bottom right). Venus is almost a twin of Earth in size. The Venusian atmosphere, however, is almost pure carbon dioxide, with surface temperatures averaging 465 Celsius - hot enough to melt lead. Mars is considerably smaller than Earth or Venus, and has a very thin atmosphere. There is some evidence to suggest that water flowed across its surface in the distant past; the water may now be 'locked up' as permafrost deep in the soil. The planetary images are derived from data from NASA space missions.
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