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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Venus is not Earth's closest neighbor

• Physics Today

Calculations and simulations confirm that on average, Mercury is the nearest planet to Earth-and to every other planet in the solar system. Quick: Which planet is closest to Earth? Ask an astronomer or a search engine, and you'll probably hear that though the situation changes frequently, Venus is the closest when averaged over time. Several educational websites, such as The Planets and Space Dictionary, publish the distance between each pair of planets, and they all show that Venus is nearest to Earth on average. They're all wrong. NASA literature even tells us Venus is "our closest planetary neighbor," which is true if we are talking about which planet has the closest approach to Earth but not if we want to know which planet is closest on average.

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