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Name: K Jones
Status: Other
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Prior to 1993


Question:
What is the composition of Venus? I cannot find it anywhere.



Replies:
I have looked through several astronomy texts, and there are some guesses about the internal composition of Venus. We will have to wait for a lander mission (almost certain to be unmanned, given the hostile Venusian environment) designed to probe the interior before we know for sure. First, the overall density is 5.24 grams per cubic centimeter, compared with Earth's 5.52 grams per cubic centimeter. (We can measure the physical dimensions of the planet, and by noting its gravitational influence on an orbiting satellite like the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, we can calculate Venus' mass. Then Density = Mass/Volume.) This tells us that the internal composition and structure of the two planets may well be similar, and current theories of planet formation would support this. Venus has almost no magnetic field, which suggests that it may not have a liquid iron core, as the Earth does (although this may also be simply because Venus rotates so much more slowly than the Earth). The USSR landed several probes on the surface since the 1970's which measured (among other things) rock and soil composition. These probes found granite-like materials and basaltic rock. The latter is almost certainly due to lava flows (which may still be going on). In sum, current best guess is that the composition of Venus is similar to that of Earth, though probably not identical to it. I got the above information from: "Exploration of the Universe" by Abell, Morrison, and Wolff; "The Solar System" by Encrenaz and Bibring; and "The Solar System" by B.W. Jones (you may need to go to a university library to find books like these).

Ronald Winther


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