Why Does Venus Change Colors?

venus-change-colors Credit: Luis Argerich/Moment/Getty Images

According to NASA’s Solar System Exploration, everything in Venus appears red because of a thick layer of atmosphere that filters out the actual shades of color. The planet appears bright white when observed from space because of its cloud cover. Its surface rocks are variations of grey, similar to the rocks on Earth.

The materials that make up planets and the way in which their surfaces and atmospheres absorb or reflect light from the Sun define their color. The thick clouds that cover the atmosphere of Venus are composed of 96 percent carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. Astronomers know this because they have deployed spacecraft to take shots of the planet and analyzed variations in wavelength to identify features of the planet’s atmosphere. Venus is very bright because its dense atmosphere helps reflect sun’s light. In fact, the sulfuric acid layers of its atmosphere reflect 70 percent of the sunlight received.

Solar System Exploration states that Venus appears very dusty because it is too hot for water to remain liquid and experiences no rainfall. The surface of the planet would likely appear different from location to location. The surface has mountains, volcanoes and valleys. Photos of the surfaces show evidence of eroded volcanic rocks that may have been eroded by wind.