Students disrobe Venus for extra credit

This screen shows the conclusion of the "Disrobing Venus" lecture. (Daniela/Lariat)

This screen shows the conclusion of the “Disrobing Venus” lecture. (Daniela/Lariat)

The Saddleback College Astronomy and Physics Club hosted a lecture called “Disrobing Venus” with instructor Jason Smith in Saddleback College’s Science and Math building on Saturday from 7-10 p.m. to raise money for the club.

Generally disrobing means taking one’s clothes off except in this case when the term actually refers to a lecture about the planet Venus.

Synthesizer music played as students sat among the cushioned seats of the auditorium in SM 313. Dimmed lights gave way to the presentation that was all about the exploration history of Venus.

Every month, The club has three workshops, one field trip and one general meeting.This event was the general meeting while the club is planning for a radio telescope workshop, once it gets built.

Several of the attendees were there to grab a few extra credit points for a science class.

“I guess I learned that Venus was close to 900 degrees fahrenheit, I didn’t know that,” said Christina Gates, there for points for a physics class. “That’s probably my biggest take away.”

Political science major Rob Luecke,18, said he was also there for extra credit, with a bit of wit in his voice.

“Extra credit, because I need to get them As,” Luecke said.

Despite Venus’s proximity to Earth, it has always been difficult to get a decent photo of Earth’s closest planet in the solar system, Smith explained.

“Well it turns out that Venus also has the harshest environment of any of the planets,” he said. ”Venus’s surface is hotter than any other planet in the solar system by far, 850 degrees Fahrenheit.”

For comparison, Smith said Venus’ heat is hotter than a pizza oven. The heat will melt most types of metals like lead. Space probes have blown up before making to Venus for this reason.

The atmosphere is 90 times heavier as the atmosphere on Earth, which is another reason for the several space probes to Venus have failed. Our atmosphere has mostly nitrogen and oxygen while Venus has carbon dioxide. This causes a greenhouse effect which makes the planet scorching hot.

The failure probes couldn’t take the heat, it was too much pressure for them. It also doesn’t help that the clouds on that planet contain sulfuric acid. The nature elements leave this planet completely uninhabitable for humans.

Smith went on to tell the history of all the American, Japanese, and Russian probes that made it to Venus. The Mariner 2 in 1952, four years after the first Russian satellite to orbit, was the first probe to reach the planet and record temperature, but did not last longer than minutes and was not able to take a picture.

He walked the students through a timeline of space probes and how certain things had to be changed after each attempt. Such as shape and design and finding a way to have the space probe camera’s lens cap off during the mission. One mistake had cost the whole mission, despite the fact that the probe was fully functioning.

The club schedules every meeting on the first Saturday of every month. The next meeting will be on Dec. 2.

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