Friday, August 3, 2007

Olympus Mons

Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

One week into this blog and I’ve finally gotten the chance to show off Olympus Mons. Even though this photo is nine years old (with some newer photographs available), it’s still one of the most beautiful to look at. Olympus Mons is the tallest known volcano in the solar system at 25 km (16 miles, or three times the height of Mount Everest) , although it is not the largest in terms of area and volume. Alba Patera, to the northeast of Olympus Mons, holds those records, being about 2.5 times as wide (approx. 1,600 km) as Olympus Mons (624 km). Still, Olympus Mons is huge; to give an earthly comparison, it's about as big as the state of Arizona.

This photo was taken by the Mars Global Surveyor on April 25, 1998 when the Martian northern hemisphere was in winter. In this picture, north is to the left and east is to the top. The west side of the volcano (the bottom part of the volcano in this picture) was clear and details on the surface appear very sharp. The skies above the plains to the east of Olympus Mons (the upper portion of the photo) were cloudy. Clouds were lapping against the lower eastern flanks of the volcano, but the summit skies were clear.

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