Which is the highest mountain? The mount Everest? Ha! It is only
8.8 Kms high. I know one that is 27 kms high!!! Its name is Olympus Mons. It is located on Mars. And it is the highest mountain in the solar system.
Friends, in today’s VERITAS we will explore the highest and most exotic peak in the solar system. I promise that it would be an out of the world experience.
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano. And it is huge! It has a diameter of 624 Kms. That is more than twice the distance from Delhi to Chandigarh. It is located in the Tharsis region of Mars. At the summit of Olympus Mons there is a crater( or calrera) much like the volcanoes found on earth. But the crater are huge! It is almost 80 kms across.
The base of the mountain is rimmed with a 6km high wall of scrap!
A shield volcano a volcano with the shape of a flattened dome. It is built with flows of liquid lava.
ANother interesting thing about this mountain. The width is 625 kms but the hight is only 27 kms. So it is not steep. The maximum slope is about 6 degrees.
What makes this mountain and other mountains on Mars more special is the fact that Mars is such a small planet compared to earth( only 1/9 the mass of earth) and it can boast of mountains that would put the ones on earth to shame.
How did such a small planet get such huge volcanoes? One reason is that at some time in history the eruption rates of volcanoes on Mars was much higher than that on earth. But all this happened millions of years ago. Some Geologists claim that Mars surface has been quiet for at least a million years. Other scientists put this figure to 200 million years!
That is one reason. But there is a bigger reason: When a volcano erupts on earth it reaches a certain height but the gravity of earth pulls down the magma and it reaches a balance beween the force of eruption and the pull of gravity. But Mars is ighter than earth, so everything weighs less. A volcano can reach a greater height without collapsing under its own weight. So the lower mass of Mars is responsible for its huge volcanoes.
Another reason for the huge valcanoes on Mars is that the surface of the planet does not move that much. On earth the plates constantly move against each other and the eruption takes place a little further from the initial point every time. On Mars the surface is less mobile and so it erupts at the same place every time. These eruptions contribute to the initial height and the volcano grows higher. SO on earth volcanic chains are formed and on mars the same volcano grows higher and higher.
Olympus Mons is named after Mount Olympus, the home of Greek Gods.
It was discovered in 1879 by Giovanni Schiaparelli. The region around Olympus ( Tharsis) has several other huge volcanoes ranging from 8 to 10 Kms in height.
IN this VERITAS we have begun a quest to discover the tallest mountans in the Solar system, Future VERITAS may take us to the hot Maxwell mountains on Venus or the mystereous Boosaule Montes on Jupiter’s moon Io or even the icy mountains on Uranus’ moon Miranda. Please dont go away, we will be right back.
See the attached pictures: The first one is a top view of Olympus Mons. See how huge it is! The scrap that surrounds the valcano is clearly visible. The second picture is a 3d image of the mountain from the side. See the wall of scrap on which the whole mountain rises. Also see the crater on the top.
These heights remind me of Alexander Popes lines:
SO pleased at first the towering Alps we try
Mount over the vales, and seem to tread the sky
The eternal snows appear already passed
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last
But, those attained, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengtened way
The increased prospect tires our wandering eyes
Hills peep over hills, and Alps on Alps arise!!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;