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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
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 Volcano Altitudes

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

The picture to the left shows the results returned from Mars Global Surveyor's measurement of the size of some of the Martian volcanoes. The altitudes measured by the spacecraft are shown in both kilometers and in miles. Shown for comparison is the altitude of the biggest Martian volcano, Olympus Mons. Some of the other volcanoes seem higher than Olympus Mons because they sit on ground level which is higher than the ground level on which Olympus Mons stands.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF