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Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.
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 altitudes of things. The 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. Shown for comparison is the altitude of the highest terrestrial peak, Mt. Everest. It can be seen from the graph that Olympus Mons is much larger 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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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA