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June 17 2013

Is Earth's orbit scarily close to Venus's sultry zone?


IT USED to be called Earth's twin. With much the same size, mass and composition as our home, Venus was a lush jungle planet in the popular imagination of the early 20th century. Muggier than Earth, perhaps, but otherwise not so very different.

That, of course, turned out to be entirely incorrect. Venus's surface is sweltering and its atmosphere suffocating: its being closer to the sun made a dramatic, not an incremental, difference to its fate.

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