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Why is Venus So hot? We Asked a NASA Scientist: Episode 39

Why is Venus so hot?

Well, let’s start with what we know. The Earth.

The Earth’s average surface temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius. Our atmospheric composition is about 78% nitrogen, 20-ish% oxygen, and then about less than 1% of a whole bunch of other gases.

But Venus’s atmosphere isn’t like Earth’s.

We know that on Earth, carbon dioxide acts as a greenhouse gas. So light from the Sun passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. But CO2 absorbs some of the heat that would otherwise have escaped back into space. And it traps that heat against the Earth, causing the Earth’s surface to be warmer than it would otherwise have been in the absence of CO2.

Now, imagine that same process happening on Venus, a place with over 2,000 times as much CO2 in the atmosphere and a lot closer to the Sun. And it’s no wonder that Venus’s actual average surface temperature is a blistering 870 degrees Fahrenheit or about 465 degrees Celsius.

So Venus is really, really hot. And why is it so hot? It’s much closer to the Sun with a massive greenhouse effect. Learn more.


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