top of page
Understanding why Earth’s closest neighbour, Venus, is so different
Understanding why Earth’s closest neighbour, Venus, is so different

Mon, 12 Jun


Lecture Theatre

Understanding why Earth’s closest neighbour, Venus, is so different

by Dr Philippa Mason Venus is our neighbour in size, mass and composition, and whilst Earth is a benign and habitable place, Venus is a hostile and toxic world shrouded by sulphuric acid clouds.  Despite the emphasis on Venus in early space exploration (Mariner, Venera, Vega, & Pioneer),

Registration is closed
See other events

Time & Location

12 Jun 2023, 19:15 – 21:00

Lecture Theatre, Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF, UK

About the Event

and the more recent Magellan, Venus Express, and Akatsuki Missions, Venus remains a global mystery. Sitting in our planetary back yard, Venus represents an unusual example of terrestrial planet formation and evolution that obviously differs from Earth and the other solid planets of the inner solar system. Many fundamental questions remain unanswered. For example, did Venus ever have oceans, how has its atmosphere evolved over time, and when and why did its runaway greenhouse begin ? How does Venus lose its heat, how volcanically and tectonically active has Venus been over the last billion years ? 

Thus, a key question in planetary science is why, despite being so similar, our next-door neighbour has experienced such a dramatic climate change?  When and why did Venus arrive at this state and does it foretell Earth’s fate should it, too, undergo a catastrophic greenhouse effect? What lessons could be learned about the evolution of terrestrial planets in general, as we discover more Earth-like exoplanets? EnVision will be ESA’s next Venus orbiter mission, collected unprecedented new data and providing a holistic view of the planet from its inner core to upper atmosphere to determine how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.


Dr Philippa Mason is an Earth and planetary geologist who specialises in using satellite imagery to study rocks, minerals, geological structures and tectonics, on Earth and other planets. Her teaching and research at Imperial College London involve the translation of terrestrial techniques in Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and imaging spectroscopy to assist in the understanding of geological features and processes on other Earth-like planets, such as Venus and Mars.

She is a member of both the ESA Science Study Team (SST) and the NASA VenSAR Science Team (VeST) for the EnVision Venus, mission. EnVision will be heading to Venus around October 2031 and is aimed at gaining a better understanding the geology and climate of Venus, our neighbouring planet, helping determine whether it might once have been habitable in its past.

Share This Event

Event Info: Events
bottom of page