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Feb 12, 2022
The area of the entire surface of Mars is approximately equal to the area of the earth's land, and its mass is only 10% of the mass of the Earth. Volcanic activity has played a significant role in shaping the planet's topography. The age of Martian volcanoes varies from about 3.7 to 0.5 billion years.
Martian volcanism has formed the largest volcanic structures in the solar system. One of them is Olympus Mons, which is located in the province of Tharsis. The height of Olympus is 26 km, the diameter of the base is 600 km, the size of the volcanic caldera is 85 × 60 km.
Part of the western hemisphere of Mars is occupied by a giant volcanic complex - the Tarsis province, covering up to 30% of the planet's surface. Three huge volcanoes up to 18 km high lie in the northeast - southwest direction, these are: Mount Askriyskaya, Mount Pavlina, Mount Arsia. The volcanoes are located about 700 km apart and are on a northeast-southwest axis, which is an object of particular interest.
Mount Askriyskaya (Ascraeus Mons), Mount Peacock (Pavonis Mons), Mount Arsia (Arsia Mons)
The main difference between Martian volcanoes and Earth volcanoes is their size: Martian shield volcanoes are simply colossal. The volcano Olympus Mons on Mars is almost 100 times larger in volume than the largest shield volcano on Earth (Mauna Kea in Hawaii, a little over 10 km from the ocean floor).
According to geologists, one of the reasons for the gigantic size of volcanoes on Mars is the lack of plate tectonics. The Martian crust does not move along the upper mantle, as it does on Earth, so lava from a single vent can erupt onto the surface over a billion years, forming volcanic structures tens of kilometers high. On Earth, this process takes only a few million years.
An active volcanic eruption (or indirect signs of it) on the surface of Mars has not yet been recorded. In 2004, the Mars Express orbiter took pictures of lava flows that scientists believe appeared on the surface about two million years ago. The authors of the study believe that volcanic activity on Mars is possible at the present time.
Source: Moscow Planetarium.
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ROSCOSMOS Press Release: https://www.roscosmos.ru/34130/
Moscow Planetarium: https://www.roscosmos.ru/tag/moskovskiy-planetariy/
Images, Animation, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/Moscow Planetarium/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.