On May 30th of 1971, NASA launched a space probe from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to unravel something which was going to make history. Mariner 9 was the space probe launched to reach the red planet Mars to do atmospheric studies and to map the Martian surface from the lowest altitude (1500 Kilometers). On November 14th of the same year, it became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mars. It returned 7329 images over the course of its mission. The spacecraft transformed our perception of Mars from a cold crater filled planet to a world full of past geological activity. It discovered that the planet once had water on its surface. Scientist at the US Geological Survey turned several images from Mariner 9 into the first accurate planetary map of Mars. Out of the images a tower emerged above the Martian dust storm which was a gigantic mountain later known as “Olympus Mons: Gigantic Mountain of Mars”.
What is Olympus Mons?
Olympus Mons is a noteworthy volcanic mountain in the Tharsis region. It is the tallest planetary mountain in the entire Solar System. Olympus Mons is an exceptionally large shield volcano on the planet Mars. The volcano has a height of nearly 22 km as measured by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter. It is about two and a half times Mount Everest’s height above sea level and is still a relatively young volcano. Although it has taken billions of years to form, some regions of the mountain may be only a few million years old. Relatively young in the lifetime of the solar system. As such, it may still be an active volcano with the potential to erupt.
It is an enormous shield volcano which is about 624 km in diameter, 25 km high and is rimmed by a 6 km high scarp. A volcanic crater 80 km (50 mi) wide is located at the summit of Olympus Mons. The most recent large volcanic eruption at Olympus Mons occurred only 25 million years ago, as calculated by some estimates. The most seasoned action at Olympus Mons could be a lot older than this. And would have been covered by more young magma streams.
Why is Olympus Mons so high?
The unimaginable size of Olympus Mons is likely because Mars lacks mobile tectonic plates. Unlike on Earth, the outside layer of Mars stays fixed over a stationary hotspot. The volcano keeps on releasing lava until it achieves colossal height. Six fallen craters, known as calderas, stack over each other. It makes a depression at the summit that is 53 miles wide (85 km). As magma loads underneath the calderas exhausted of lava, most likely during an eruption. The chambers crumbled, no longer able to support the heaviness of the ground above.
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So, while it may be some time before you can physically climb Olympus Mons: Gigantic Mountain of Mars. You might almost certainly, in any event, explore it visually.