Venus is the virtual twin of Earth in many ways. Similar size, mass and density. But what is the gravity on Venus? According to our friends over at NASA, the answer is 8.87 m/s2. To translate that a little more, it is about 90% of the gravity here on Earth. A person who measures 100 kg when they leave home would tip the scales on the Venusian surface at 90 kg.
The surface gravity of Venus is not the only characteristic of the planet that nearly mirrors Earth. Venus has 86% of the volume that Earth has along with 82% of the mass. The planet’s density is nearly identical at 5.243 g/cm3.
In order to shed that ten kilos you would have to spend a couple of months in space. Once you arrived the real trouble would begin. Science has not been able to develop a spacesuit that could survive more than a few minutes in the harsh environment of Venus. To start with there is the 470C surface temperature. That is 9 times the temperatures in the hottest deserts here on Earth. The heat would not destroy your suit though. The atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide and full of sulfuric acid clouds and droplets and ash from the volcanoes that dot the surface. The atmosphere is so thick that most meteors could not penetrate it, burning up before impact instead.
While there have been many large volcanoes here on Earth, there is no real comparison to the number, size, and extent of the volcanic activity on Venus. The Venusian surface is dominated by the more than 1,000 volcanoes or volcanic centers that are larger than 20 km. Lava flows are thought to have completely resurfaced the planet between 300 and 500 million years ago.
The reflective nature of the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere has made visual observation of the surface impossible. It was early in the 20th century, when astronomers were able to make spectroscopic, ultraviolet, and radar observations, before much was known about the planet. Surface features went undetected until radar observations were made in the 1970s.
Fifty years ago no one could have accurately told you much about Venus gravity. It was still a mystery at the beginning of the 20th century. In many ways it can be considered the Earth’s near twin, but the planet is still a host of mysteries that need to be solved. The Venus Express spacecraft has contributed a great deal of data. BepiColumbo and Akatsuki may be able to add a great deal more in 2014 and 2016, respectively. All we can do is wait and see.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about Venus. Listen here, Episode 50: Venus.