Last Updated: October 31, 2023, 11:58 IST
Mars, Earth’s neighbouring planet in our solar system, has held a prominent role in both pop culture and science fiction for centuries. From its early appearance in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 classic, Gulliver’s Travels, to more recent blockbusters like The Martian, Mars has consistently fascinated the human imagination. This enduring presence has rendered Mars one of the most depicted planets in science fiction, providing even those outside the scientific community with a general idea of its distinctive features. Often referred to as the Red Planet, Mars boasts a distinctive landscape, characterized by rocky terrains and volcanoes.
Among the various types of volcanoes found on Mars, Olympus Mons stands out as the largest volcano in the entire solar system. Olympus Mons is categorized as a shield volcano, characterized by its gently sloping mountain profile, where lava flows down gradually. Its colossal volume surpasses Earth’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa, which is situated in Hawaii, by a staggering factor of 100. Furthermore, Olympus Mons claims the title of being the tallest mountain in the entire solar system, towering at three times the height of Mount Everest, Earth’s highest peak. A significant event occurred approximately two decades ago when Olympus Mons was captured on camera, even astonishing scientists who witnessed its grandeur.
Scientific conjecture posits that Mars, in the distant past, might have harboured water and oceans, akin to Earth. It is believed that towering volcanoes might have existed alongside these ancient Martian oceans, further adding to the planet’s enigmatic history. Olympus Mons, the current giant among Martian volcanoes, was formed millions of years ago, where scorching lava emanated from its summit, only to cool and solidify on the surface. Remarkably, Olympus Mons has remained dormant for a considerable period.
Additionally, scientists hypothesize that hot lava once interacted with ice and water on Mars, leading to landslides and volcanic debris scattering across extensive areas, which then compacted over millions of years. Olympus Mons, the pinnacle of these geological wonders, reaches a towering height of 26 kilometres, in stark contrast to Mount Everest’s 8.8 kilometres on Earth. The scale of Olympus Mons is so colossal that it covers a staggering 70% of the land area of France when measured in terms of sheer size.