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This is an image of Olympus Mons.
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NASA

Olympus Mons

The largest volcano in the solar system is Olympus Mons, shown in the image to the left. Olympus Mons is a Martian shield volcano. The altitude of Olympus Mons is three times the altitude of the largest peak on Earth, Mt. Everest, and is as wide as the entire chain of Hawaiian Islands. Measurements returned by Mars Global surveyor demonstrate the unbelievable size of Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is a very large volcano for a body the size of Mars, given the fact that Mars is three times smaller than the Earth. The size of Olympus Mons suggests something special about the surface of Mars and how Mars cooled over time.

Mars has several other *very* large volcanoes. Some of them are located on top of a big bulge in the side of Mars called the Tharsis Ridge. The volcanoes built during this period were built in a manner similar to that in which the Hawaiian Islands came into being on Earth, namely by a hot plume, rising from the deep interior of the planet, which builds land on the surface. The size of these volcanos suggests that Mars had already cooled sufficiently to form a lithosphere thick enough to support large volcanoes without allowing them to sink.


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Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Shield Volcanoes

Shield volcanoes can grow to be very big. In fact, the oldest continental regions of Earth may be the remains of ancient shield volcanoes. Unlike the composite volcanoes which are tall and thin, shield...more

The Cooling of Mars

Many of the reasons the history of Mars is different from that of the Earth stem from the small size of Mars. Mars is about 1/3 the size of the Earth. This means that it was able to cool much more rapidly...more

The Tharsis Ridge

This image, taken from the Mars Global Surveyor mission (MGS), shows the Tharsis Ridge, the green/blue area in the middle of the picture, as well as a portion of the southern hemisphere of Mars. The green...more

Volcanism

Volcanism is part of the process of bringing material up from the deep interior of a planet and spilling it forth on the surface. Eruptions also deliver fresh gases to the surface from the melted material...more

Martian Cratered Terrain

This is an example of the cratered terrain on Mars. Almost the entire surface of Mars is cratered to various degrees. The Tharsis Ridge, where the volcanoes of Mars are located, is lightly cratered. The...more

An Overview of Martian Tectonism

Unlike Earth, there is no plate tectonics on Mars. The Martian surface does not seem to have changed or moved in billions of years. The evidence for this fact can be found in two ways. 1.) An examination...more

Martian Global Geography

The surface of Mars can be broken into two main regions: highlands and lowlands. The highlands are in the southern hemisphere (the bottom of the figure), and the lowlands are in the northern hemisphere...more

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