Scientists already knew that Venus holds the record for the longest day in our solar system. However, a new study just uncovered that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year, which is honestly flat-out crazy to think about.
In the study, data was obtained by bouncing radio waves off the planet. Scientists also measured the size of the planet’s core and the tilt of its axis. All together, this data helped scientists determine more precise calculations of how Venus rotates and what it found is downright fascinating: A year on the planet goes by faster than a single day there does.
Yep, you read that right. A single day on Venus is equivalent to 243.0226 Earth days, where a single year on our sister planet can be completed in just 225 Earth days. But how does that work, you’re likely wondering?
A day is measured by how long it takes a planet to rotate on its axis one time. For us here on Earth, that takes just 24 hours; however, Venus as we mentioned above takes much longer. Likewise, a year is measured by how long it takes a planet to revolve around its star. Earth can complete a full orbit in 365 days, and Venus can do it in just 225.
To determine this, scientists at NASA’s Goldstone Antenna sent radio waves towards Venus 21 times between 2006 and 2020 and analyzed the corresponding echoes. These measurements gave the researchers information on various planetary traits.
“Each individual measurement was obtained by treating Venus as a giant disco ball. We illuminated Venus with a giant flashlight, the radar at Goldstone, and observed the reflections as they swept over the surface of the Earth,” stated Jean-Luc Margot, UCLA planetary astronomy professor, who led the study. “Venus is an amazing laboratory for understanding planet formation and evolution, and it’s a stone’s throw away. There are likely billions of Venus-like planets in the galaxy.”
The study also revealed that the core of Venus has a diameter of approximately 4,360 miles (7,000km), which is similar to the size of Earth’s core. Venus’ core is most likely made up of nickel and iron, but we have yet to confirm this or learn whether it’s solid or molten.
As far as studies go, Venus tends to receive less attention than Mars, our other planetary neighbor and the other planets in our solar system.
“I don’t think that Venus would be more difficult to understand than other planets if we had adequate data, but there is a deplorable scarcity of data about Venus,” Margot added. “There have been no NASA missions to Venus in almost 30 years and about a dozen missions to Mars in this time interval.” Margot also noted that these new findings will help us better plan out future landing attempts.