NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 3 April 2023: Olympus Mons volcano on Mars

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A volcano is an opening on the surface of a planet or moon that allows material hotter than its surroundings to escape from its interior. Although numerous volcanoes exist on Earth, the biggest volcano in our solar system does not exist on our planet. Instead, it is located on Mars. Known as Olympus Mons, it is considered to be the largest and tallest volcano in the Solar System and is about two and a half times Mount Everest’s height above sea level.

Today’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is an aerial snapshot of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system which is located on Mars. Olympus Mons is located in the Tharsis Montes region near the Martian equator and has an elevation of about 25 kilometers above the surrounding plains, stretching almost 600 kilometers across.

According to NASA, Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, formed by lava slowly flowing down the sides. As a result, the volcano has a shallow slope which, despite being the highest volcano in the solar system, can be climbed, thanks to the low gravity of Mars.

Tech used to capture the picture

Olympus Mons was captured by the Mars Express Orbiter, part of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission. According to ESA, Mars Express hosts eight scientific instruments: HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera, OMEGA (Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer) and MARSIS (Sub-surface Sounding Radar Altimeter).

NASA’s description of the picture

The largest volcano in our Solar System is on Mars. Although three times higher than Earth’s Mount Everest, Olympus Mons will not be difficult for humans to climb because of the volcano’s shallow slopes and Mars’ low gravity. Covering an area greater than the entire Hawaiian volcano chain, the slopes of Olympus Mons typically rise only a few degrees at a time. Olympus Mons is an immense shield volcano, built long ago by fluid lava.

A relatively static surface crust allowed it to build up over time. Its last eruption is thought to have been about 25 million years ago. The featured image was taken by the European Space Agency’s robotic Mars Express spacecraft currently orbiting the Red Planet.

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