Here's What Makes The Snow On Venus So Special

Venus, the second planet from the sun, is similar to Earth in size and little else. The planet's atmosphere is intense to say the least, with temperatures reaching hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit and clouds of toxic sulfuric acid. Despite this, the mountains of Venus still accumulate "snow" just like the ones here on Earth, but its snow is a bit different from frozen water.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the snow on Venus is actually metal. Galena and bismuthinite gather on the caps of Venusian mountains, which tower over Earth's: Venus' tallest mountain dwarfs Mount Everest by 1.8 miles. The metallic snow is a result of the extremely hot and volatile atmosphere that vaporizes metal into a shiny mist that collects on the planet's loftiest peaks. This forms glittering, reflective caps that mimic the snowline that forms on large mountains here on Earth, an amazing visual coincidence given the extreme differences in temperature and atmosphere.

On Venus, mountains are brighter than lava

The dense and destructive atmosphere of Venus has made documenting its surface difficult, but space agencies have managed to get a glimpse at our planetary neighbor through radar and a probe landing. According to Seeker, the first radar readings were confusing. The highlands were extremely reflective, appearing brighter than the fields of lava nearby. Various theories were thrown around until more satellites could provide more detailed chemical readings, and our understanding of Venusian "snow" developed.

Temperatures of nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit vaporize reflective pyrite in the Venusian lowlands to create a metallic mist that condenses into the shimmering snow seen on the mountaintops. It can form anywhere on the Venusian surface over an altitude of 1.6 miles; below that, the atmospheric pressure is so strong that gas can't truly exist. The two metals that form this snow are light gray and shiny on the towering alien peaks. One can only imagine how strange and beautiful the sight is, even among the violent, volatile landscape.