TORONTO – The European Space Agency is providing a close-up view of the tallest volcano in our solar system — and it’s on Mars.
On Jan. 21, 2013, the ESA’s Mars Express focused on the southeast part of the massive Martian volcano and took several images of lava flows frozen in time.
Olympus Mons is truly massive. It is 624 km in diameter and reaches 25 km into the sky. To put things in perspective, the distance from Toronto to Montreal is roughly 550 km. Comparatively, Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, is 120 km wide and 17 km high.
Shield volcanoes, like Olympus Mons and Mauna Loa, are gently sloping volcanoes. However, Olympus Mons has a cliff, called a scarp, that separates it from the surrounding plains. The scarp circles the Olympus Mons and reaches 9 km high.
The images are further proof that at one time, Olympus Mons was a very active volcano. However, scientists believe that it stopped being active tens of millions of years ago.