Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Progress
  • Published:

Venus as a more Earth-like planet


Venus is Earth’s near twin in mass and radius, and our nearest planetary neighbour, yet conditions there are very different in many respects. Its atmosphere, mostly composed of carbon dioxide, has a surface temperature and pressure far higher than those of Earth. Only traces of water are found, although it is likely that there was much more present in the past, possibly forming Earth-like oceans. Here we discuss how the first year of observations by Venus Express brings into focus the evolutionary paths by which the climates of two similar planets diverged from common beginnings to such extremes. These include a CO2-driven greenhouse effect, erosion of the atmosphere by solar particles and radiation, surface–atmosphere interactions, and atmospheric circulation regimes defined by differing planetary rotation rates.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: The Venus Express spacecraft.
Figure 2: Schematic view of the general circulation of Venus’s atmosphere.
Figure 3: Atmospheric composition from the Venus Express observations.
Figure 4: The plasma environment of Venus as determined by Venus Express.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Taylor, F. W. Venus before Venus Express. Planet. Space Sci. 54, 1249–1262 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Svedhem, H. et al. Venus Express—The first European mission to Venus. Planet. Space Sci. 55, 1636–1652 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Titov, D. V. et al. Venus Express science planning. Planet. Space Sci. 54, 1279–1297 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Baines, K. H. et al. To the depths of Venus: Exploring the deep atmosphere and surface of our sister world with Venus Express. Planet. Space Sci. 54, 1263–1278 (2006)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Markiewicz, W. J. et al. Morphology and dynamics of the upper cloud layer of Venus. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06320 (this issue).

  6. Piccioni, G. et al. South polar features on Venus similar to those near the north pole. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06209 (this issue).

  7. Drossart, P. et al. A dynamic upper atmosphere of Venus as revealed by VIRTIS on Venus Express. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06140 (this issue).

  8. Bertaux, J.-L. et al. A warm layer in Venus’ cryosphere and high-altitude measurements of HF, HCl, H2O and HDO. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature05974 (this issue).

  9. Gierasch, P. et al. in Venus-II (eds Bougher, S. W., Hunten, D. M. & Phillips, R. J.) 459–500 (Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1997)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Peralta, J., Hueso, R. & Sánchez-Lavega, A. A reanalysis of Venus winds at two cloud levels from Galileo SSI images. Icarus 190, 469–477 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Barabash, S. et al. The loss of ions from Venus through the plasma wake. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06434 (this issue).

  12. Zhang, T. et al. Little or no solar wind enters Venus’ atmosphere at solar minimum. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06026 (this issue).

  13. Pätzold, M. et al. The structure of Venus’ middle atmosphere and ionosphere. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature06239 (this issue).

  14. Donahue, T. M., Grinspoon, D. H., Hartle, R. E. & Hodges, R. R. (eds Bougher, S. W., Hunten, D. M. & Phillips, R. J.) 385–414 (Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1997)

  15. Russell, C. T. et al. Lightning on Venus inferred from whistler-mode waves in the ionosphere. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature05930 (this issue).

Download references


We thank R. Hueso and J. Bailey for the provision of graphics and data for Fig. 2b, and E. Marcq, C. Tsang, P. Drossart and J.-L. Bertaux for providing data for Fig. 3.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Håkan Svedhem.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Svedhem, H., Titov, D., Taylor, F. et al. Venus as a more Earth-like planet. Nature 450, 629–632 (2007).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing