Which Planet is Closer to Earth: Mars or Venus?

By Victor Kiprop on October 12 2018 in World Facts

A 3D rendering of Venus.
A 3D rendering of Venus.

While Venus is an average of 25 million miles away from Earth, Mars is an average of 140 million miles away. This means that Venus is Earth's closest neighbor.

Earth and Venus share a lot in common; they are both terrestrial planets and they both orbit the sun’s habitable zone. Scientists suggest that at one point Venus had an atmosphere similar to Earth but volcanic activities in the planet released vast amounts of carbon dioxide and sulphuric gas creating a thick atmosphere that traps heat. It is for this reason that Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is much closer to the sun.

How Far is Venus From Earth?

The distance between Venus and Earth depends on their respective orbital paths. Both planets travel in an elliptical orbit around the sun, and the distance between the two is constantly shifting. It takes 224.7 Earth days for Venus to complete a revolution around the sun. The farthest distance between the two planets is 162 million miles, which is when the planets are at opposite ends of their orbits. After every 584 days, Venus catches up with Earth, and the distance between the planets shrinks to an average of 25 million miles but can drop to 24 million.

How Far is Venus From the Sun?

All planets have elliptical paths around the sun, but Venus has the least elliptical orbit. The average distance between Venus and the sun is 67 million miles. The closest distance between the two is 66.7 million mile while the farthest is 67.7 million miles. Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system because unlike Mercury, Venus has a thick atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide that reflects light better than the rocky surface of Mercury.

Transits of Venus

The orbital path of Venus lies inside the orbit of Earth, and therefore periodically comes between the sun and the Earth. If the two planets traveled along the same plane, Venus would frequently come between the Earth and the sun. This is not the case because the orbital path of Venus inclines 3.4 degrees in respect to the earth’s orbit. Because of the incline, Venus transits between the Earth and the sun every 243 years. Transit occur in pairs that are eight years apart. The last time Venus came between the sun and the earth was on June 5 and 6, 2012 while the partner transit had occurred in 2004.

How Long Does it Take to Get to Venus? 

The duration it takes to travel to Venus from Earth depends on the path a spacecraft travels and its speed. Most spacecraft traveling to other planets use the gravity of the moon, other planets, or the sun to boot their acceleration without requiring energy. On August 27, 1962, NASA launched the Mariner 2 that made a flyby of Venus on December 14 of the same year. On August 17, 1970, the Soviets launched Venera 7 that landed on the surface of Venus on December 15, 1970, as the first earth object to reach the surface of the planet.

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