Japanese Spacecraft May Unlock Mysteries Of Earth's 'Evil Twin' - Venus
Venus, the brightest natural object in our skies is aptly named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. However, behind the exquisite twinkle, lies an environment so hostile that the planet is often referred to as Earth's evil twin!
Venus is similar to Earth in many ways - It has the same mass, is situated at the same distance from sun and, is even made up of the basic materials. Yet, it has a surface hot enough to melt lead and an atmosphere that comprises of 96% carbon dioxide, mixed in with corrosive sulfuric acid, which churns around at a rate of almost 220mph - 60 times faster than the planet's own orbit. As for its terrain? Filled with craters and volcanic calderas, it is truly hostile. Oh, and one more thing - The Planet has no water!
Scientists are now hoping to find out why the two are so similar, yet so different, from data transmitted by Akatsuki, a Japanese spacecraft that is heading towards Venus and is scheduled to get into the planet's orbit by December. Equipped with the most sophisticated cameras and equipment, the spacecraft will circle the planet for at least two years, recording the planet's atmosphere from different altitudes. It will also monitor for any volcanic activity, which the scientists believe may be the cause of the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.
Once the data and pictures are collected, researchers plan to construct a 3D model and produce a slow-motion movie that will allow them to analyze the planet's environment in detail.
Lastly, researchers are also hoping that it will help answer the biggest mystery - How does Venetian lightning occur? That's because on Earth lightning occurs only when ice particles collide and induce negative or positive charges. But, since Venus is bone dry, there has to be another way - So stay tuned for some fun updates from the evil twin! To read more about this fascinating mission go to www.stp.isas.jaxa.jp/venus