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The Poles of Venus - Windows to the Universe

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This picture shows the northern hemisphere of Venus. It was made using radar. It shows how the surface of Venus might look if we could see through the thick atmosphere. The North Pole is at the center of the picture. The bright area below the center is Maxwell Montes, the highest mountain chain on Venus.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.

The Poles of Venus

Venus is the hottest planet in our Solar System. On Earth, places near the equator are hot. Places near the poles are cold. On Venus, it is really hot everywhere... even at the North and South Poles.

Venus doesn't have any oceans. It does have two large areas of high ground. Scientists call the raised areas "continents". One continent is near the North Pole. It is called Ishtar Terra. Ishtar Terra is about as big as Australia. The highest mountain range on Venus is on Ishtar Terra. The mountains are called Maxwell Montes. They are about 11 km (6.6 miles) high. That is a little bit taller than Mount Everest on Earth.

Venus isn't tilted on its axis very much. Earth is tilted about 23. Venus is only tilted 3. That means there are no seasons on Venus. It is pretty much the same temperature all year round on Venus... hot!

The atmosphere above the poles of Venus is strange. A "vortex" (plural: vortices) is a swirling mass of air and clouds... like a tornado or a hurricane. There are two vortices in the atmosphere above each of the poles of Venus!

Last modified May 18, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF