Olympus Mons: Largest Volcano in the Solar System | The Case for Mars 35

in the year 1971 NASA sent the Mariner 9

spacecraft to orbit around the planet

Mars and upon arrival they were welcomed

with a global dust storm which hindered

their ability to take pictures of the

surface however as scientists patiently

waited for the dust to settle they

quickly realized that there was a

mountain that was peaking out above the

dust clouds and later they quickly

realized that this wasn't actually a

mountain at all but rather the tallest

volcano in the entire solar system

so how massive is this object and could

we ever send a robotic mission to

explore it let's talk about that now

this volcano was given the name Olympus

Mons and that name is really fitting

because Olympus comes from the term an

ancient Greek mythology referring to the

home of the 12 olympian gods now in

order to actually classify how tall this

object is we must first understand that

it's pretty wide as well in fact it's

550 kilometers wide which is

approximately the size of the country

France or the state Arizona which is

incredibly massive then if you want to

classify its actual height well do you

compare it to the surrounding region or

the average elevation on Mars because if

you compare it to the surrounding region

then it's 22 kilometers higher than that

but then if you compare it to the

average elevation of Mars its 27

kilometers higher than that which is a

little bit more than twice the height of

Mount Everest that just puts things into

perspective on how absolutely massive

this volcano truly is but that's not all

if you were on the peak of Olympus Mons

you would actually be incredibly close

to just being in the vacuum of space the

atmospheric pressure at this altitude is

only 12% of the typical atmospheric

pressure on Mars meaning you're only a

couple kilometers or a couple miles away

from being in space which is pretty

incredible to think about that this

volcano can reach so tall but that's not

all the volcano itself is actually a

shield volcano and when we think about

this here on earth they have this

dome-like shape and aren't very peak

like like we might think of a mountain

but rather a gradual hill however this

dome volcano does sit on its own plateau

of a sense

the some of the cliffs that are on the

side of this are similar to that of

cliffs that we see maybe on the beaches

are on the west coast of the United

States where the cliffs could be maybe

tens or in some places a hundred meters

tall however for olympus mons it's a

little bit bigger in some locations it's

not that these cliffs can be kilometers

tall meaning you have a cliff being the

beginning of a dome volcano which is

pretty impressive so now that we know

that this volcano is truly massive and

in fact the largest volcano in the

entire solar system and the largest

planetary mountain in the solar system

this leads to the question of how did it

get so big and there are multiple

answers for this the first one being

that the Martian gravity being lower

than Earth's gravity allows for magma to

get up to the surface much easier and

then spread out along the surface when

it grows this massive volcano in

addition Mars doesn't have tectonic

plates like Earth does in fact it's

rather still there for underneath the

surface of Mars there might be this very

hot segment that is eventually getting

lava or magma to the surface but then on

earth we have plates that are slowly

changing or going under or over each

other therefore what ends up happening

on earth is we have some of this ring of

volcanoes or chains of them instead of

having just one or two massive volcano

like we see on Mars now speaking of the

fact that since it doesn't have these

tectonic plates and it's building this

massive volcano it's actually not by

itself in this region a region called

thoris and as you can see by this

topographic map it's actually reddish

white in these regions and there are

multiple of these very large shield

volcanoes in this region now because of

all these studies that have been looking

at these volcanoes there have been a lot

of different images as you see now of

Olympus Mons in fact you can see

different lava flows or channels where

lava used to flow and you can also see

on the top of Olympus Mons there are

multiple Cabrera's or the caps to the

volcanoes after previous eruptions now

then this leads to the question of is

Olympus Mons active and when we think

about active the terminology here on

earth means that the volcano itself is

actually erupted within the last 10,000


however for Mars 10,000 years is a very

short timeframe

in fact it's not the last eruption of

olympus mons happened around a hundred

million years ago but that doesn't

necessarily mean that it can never erupt


in fact some geologists do in fact

believe that it isn't extinct and that

there could be an eruption in the future

but most likely not in the next thousand

or even million years just because of

how rarely these eruptions could occur

but it could make a drastic difference

of what the surface of Mars looks like

or at least the region around Olympus

Mons so seeing such an event would be

truly incredible but I highly doubt

something like that would happen in our

lifetime now all this information about

this incredible location on the surface

of Mars has you wondering can we send a

rover to land on the top of Olympus Mons

and take some incredible pictures and

get a lot of great data about volcanic

activity on Mars and the answer to that

is unfortunately no I have an entire

video talking about how exactly we land

on Mars and if you remember early in

this video I said that the peak of

olympus mons only has around twelve

percent of the average atmosphere of

mars itself meaning it's almost in the

vacuum of space and therefore when

trying to land something on mars we try

and utilize as much atmospheric drag as

we can so that we don't have to use as

much fuel to slowly ease us down to the

surface therefore laning something on

the peak of Olympus month would take an

incredible amount of fuel and therefore

wouldn't necessarily be a great idea and

then you may ask well why don't we just

lay in a rover maybe on the outskirts of

olympus mons and then climb to the top

but remember this thing is 550

kilometers wide and you'd have to climb

around 22 kilometers tall not including

the kilometer high cliffs and the

different channels you'd have to travel

through and all that with a rover would

practically and be impossible when you

look at the Curiosity rover which has

only been able to climb a couple hundred

meters over the course of maybe five

years so then that might lead you to

your final question of can we send the

crew to the base of Olympus Mons and set

them on a journey of one of the greatest

mountaineering experience of all of

humanity and the answer to that is well

theoretically yes I mean we haven't sent

anyone to Mars yet but in the future we

could technically send of people there

have a mobile base that basically comes

with them as they travel up the various

cliffs and valleys but for the most part

you'd have to have a really

well-thought-out plan of how you would

actually get to the top but in the

meantime all we can really do are watch

animations like these now this animation

was creating using data from various

NASA missions and if you would like to

watch more the link to it is in the

description down below but this leads me

to the question that I want to lead for

you would you be willing to go on a

voyage that climbs Olympus Mons and if

so how long do you think that voyage

will take a couple months maybe a

Martian year let me know in the comments

below but if you enjoyed this video

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you for watching and I hope to see you

in the next one