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This graph illustrates one way in which the altimeter instrument studies the planet.
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Image from: NASA/JPL

Mars Global Surveyor Measures Olympus Mons

Mars Global Surveyor carries an instrument which measures the heights of things. This instrument is called an altimeter, or "altitude-meter".

The graph to the left shows the results returned from Mars Global Surveyor's measurement of the size of the giant Martian volcano Olympus Mons. The altitudes measured by the altimeter are shown in kilometers and in miles. The altitude of the highest mountain on Earth, Mt. Everest, is shown on the graph for comparison. It can be seen from the graph that Olympus Mons is a lot bigger than Mt. Everest. Olympus Mons is the size of the entire chain of Hawaiian Islands. This is especially amazing since Mars as a whole is about 1/3 the size of the Earth!


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