Named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the second planet from the sun in our solar system and is similar to Earth in its size. The planet rotates east to west, or in a retrograde motion, unlike many of the other planets in the solar system. The planet has a very slow trip around the sun, about 225 Earth days.
Venus is brightest star in the sky (apart from the Sun, of course) due to its closeness to Earth and how its clouds reflect light. Venus is scorched and burned by a thick and toxic atmosphere that traps in carbon dioxide. The surface of the planet consists of sand, mountains and volcanoes, and exhibits very few meteorite impacts (what meteorites hurtle toward Venus are suspected of burning in the atmosphere).
The planet has been a difficult one to fully research as spacecraft do not survive long on the planet. NASA’s Mariner 2 was the first to send back information on the planet in 1962, and in 1970, the Soviet Union’s Venera 7 managed to land on the planet and send back information. Most recently, the Japanese attempted to put a spacecraft in orbit around the planet in December 2010, but the spacecraft failed to achieve an orbiting position.
(Text by Noel Kirkpatrick)

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