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Olympus Mons as seen from Mars orbit facing southeast with Deimos and Phobos in the sky; terrestrial planet; telluric planet; rocky planet - Space Art Illustration

Olympus Mons

The northwest side of Olympus Mons' 20,000 foot scarps cast long shadows into the water mist and dust-filled atmosphere over the plains of the Tharsis Bulge. In the sky immediately above Olympus Mons' caldera are, left to right, Mars' satellites Deimos and Phobos.

Nearly as large as the state of Arizona and three times the height of Mount Everest, Olympus Mons is the largest volcano--and mountain--in the Solar System. It is thought to be very old, though its last eruption may have been as (geologically) recent as 40 million years ago. Olympus Mons may yet still be an active volcano.


What's in a name?

Olympus Mons was named after the home of the twelve gods of Olympus in Greek mythology. It was first observed by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1879 as a small, whitish patch, that he named Nix Olympica (the Snows of Olympus). This feature wasn't identified as a volcano until about a century later when the NASA space probe Mariner 9 photographed Mars for the first time from Mars orbit, at which point its name was changed to Olympus Mons.

Tharsis comes from the Bible and refers to a land at the western extremity of the known world.

Phobos is named after the son of Ares (Mars) from Greek Mythology.

This rendering is based upon elevation data from NASA's Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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