Space: Venus' Omen

Some hot times on earth?

As Carl Sagan likes to point out, our planetary neighbor Venus seems less the goddess of love than the incarnation of hell. Wrapped in a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere with clouds of sulfuric acid, it is a Dantesque world where surface temperatures reach a lead-melting 900° F and atmospheric pressures are 90 times greater than those on earth. In so grim an environment no life could exist.

Yet because Venus is such an inferno, the heavenly goddess has held a special fascination for scientists. Why, they wonder, has a planet...

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