FRIEDRICH SAURER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRIEDRICH SAURER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Venus, computer artwork. This is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting at an average of 108 million kilometres from it. Its diameter of 12,100 kilometres is slightly smaller than that of the Earth. Venus has a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid clouds that usually obscure the rocky surface (seen here). The atmosphere traps the Sun's heat and leads to surface temperatures of over 500 degrees Celsius, the hottest planetary surface in the solar system. After the Earth's moon, Venus is the brightest object in the night sky.
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