This photo taken by the Messenger spacecraft in June of last year shows the ghostly pale and nearly featureless face of Venus, our sister planet. Shot in visible light and RGB-calibrated by Gordan Ugarkovic, the global shroud of Venus’ oppressive (and corrosive) atmosphere lacks the swirling detail seen in most photos of the planet, which must be imaged in ultraviolet or infrared wavelengths to discern any details in the cloud cover.
To human eyes, Venus is a bone-grey cue ball.
Although nearly the same size as Earth, and just one orbital step closer to the Sun, Venus is as utterly inhospitable to us as a planet could be. Sulphuric acid-laden clouds churn at hurricane speeds over a parched surface baking in 800º heat, crushed beneath the pressure of the dense atmosphere above. Even with a way to combat the heat, standing on the surface of Venus would be impossible for a human…the air pressure is 90 times what it is here on Earth. It would be like getting out of a submarine 3,300 feet underwater. Even the robotic surface missions sent to Venus – the Soviet Venera landers in the early 70s – only lasted a short time before succumbing to the harsh environment.
Named after the goddess of love, Venus is also protective of her secrets.
Image credit: NASA/Gordan Ugarkovic