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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 is an image of Olympus Mons.
Click on image for full size

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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Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

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Shield Volcanoes

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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


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Martian Cratered Terrain

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An Overview of Martian Tectonism

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Martian Global Geography

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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