Shop Windows to the Universe

Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.

An Overview of the Interior and Surface of Venus

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and is Earth's neighbor in the solar system. Venus is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, and sometimes looks like a bright star in the morning or evening sky. We can't see the surface of the planet because it has a very thick atmosphere filled with clouds that strongly reflect sunlight. Observations of Venus in the ultraviolet show cloud features that relate to characteristics of the planet's atmosphere. Venus is slightly smaller than Earth, and considering its neighboring position in the solar system might be expected to be similar to Earth. We think that the internal structure of Venus is similar to Earth, with a metallic core, rocky mantle, and crust. The atmosphere of Venus produces hostile conditions at the planet's surface, where temperatures can reach more than 460C (900F), atmospheric pressure is 90 times that at the Earth's surface, and clouds filled with sulfuric acid surround the planet. Nonetheless, space missions sent to Venus have managed to land on and photograph the surface while the Magellan spacecraft mapped the surface of the planet from above. These maps reveal a surface covered with craters, over 1600 major volcanoes, mountains, large highland terrains, and vast lava plains.

Last modified May 19, 2009 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

The Innermost Planets as Bright Stars

Venus and Mercury, the innermost planets in the solar system, always appear only a small distance away from the Sun in the sky. The maximum elongations (maximum angular distances between an inner planet...more

Venus Global Geography

This is a map of the surface of Venus (turned sideways!). Lowlands in the map are similar to an ocean bottom, and highlands resemble continents. As can be seen in the image, the surface of Venus consists...more

The Interior of Venus

Venus is a slightly smaller than the Earth, with a diameter 95% that of Earth (12,103 km) and a mass 81% that of Earth. If we could walk around on the surface of the planet (without being killed by the...more

The Atmosphere of Venus

The atmosphere of Venus is very hot and thick. If you were on the surface of the planet, the air above you would be about 90 times heavier than the Earth's atmosphere. This is like what a submarine experiences...more


On May 4, 1989, Magellan, a spacecraft built mostly from spare parts from other missions, was carried into Earth orbit by the Atlantis space shuttle and launched toward Venus. It arrived on Aug. 10, 199...more

Volcanic Rises

Volcanic rises are thought to form when a portion of the deep mantle is heated to several hundred degrees hotter than its surroundings. This portion of the mantle is now less dense than its surroundings...more

Venus Channels

This image clearly shows a channel where something once flowed. Without proper measurements, scientists can only guess what sort of liquid may have flowed through this channel. On Earth, such channels...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA