ESA’s Mars Express Focuses on Surroundings of Olympus Mons Volcano

Lava flows on Olympus Mons most likely melted ice within the floor, making the volcano flank unstable; rockfalls and landslides moved tons of of km into the encompassing panorama, forming a attribute ‘wrinkled’ panorama there; immediately, steep escarpments kind the bottom of Olympus Mons, exposing its 600-km-wide ‘plinth.’

This oblique perspective view of Lycus Sulci and Yelwa Crater on Mars was generated from the digital terrain model and the nadir and color channels of the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express. It shows the large 8-km-wide Yelwa Crater in the background, while the wrinkled terrain of Lycus Sulci dominates the foreground. These features lie on the edge of the ‘aureole’ of Olympus Mons. Image credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

This indirect perspective view of Lycus Sulci and Yelwa Crater on Mars was generated from the digital terrain mannequin and the nadir and colour channels of the Excessive Decision Stereo Digital camera on ESA’s Mars Categorical. It exhibits the big 8-km-wide Yelwa Crater within the background, whereas the wrinkled terrain of Lycus Sulci dominates the foreground. These options lie on the sting of the ‘aureole’ of Olympus Mons. Picture credit score: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Mars is residence to the most important volcanoes within the Photo voltaic System. The tallest of those is Olympus Mons, a large protect volcano noticed in 1971 by NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft.

Olympus Mons is 21.9 km tall at its peak, about 2.5 instances larger than Earth’s Mount Everest rises above sea stage.

Mariner scientists spied not simply Olympus Mons’ peak but in addition its environment, noticing an ‘aureole’ spreading out from the volcano’s base for tons of of km.

This aureole in flip surrounds the volcano’s ‘basal scarp’, an instantaneous perimeter round Olympus Mons that’s remarkably steep, hitting seven km tall in some locations.

The brand new photographs from the Excessive Decision Stereo Digital camera (HRSC) on ESA’s Mars Categorical present a crumpled characteristic named Lycus Sulci, on the sides of the aureole; the volcano itself is situated out of body to the underside left (south-east), many tons of of km away.

The aureole tells the story of how Olympus Mons’ decrease flanks catastrophically collapsed a number of 100 million years in the past.

Giant quantities of lava as soon as flowed down the volcano, triggering landslides that tumbled down its flanks to fulfill bedrock — on this case, bedrock containing ice and water.

The swelteringly scorching lava prompted this ice to soften and turn out to be unstable; in consequence, the rocky rim of Olympus Mons broke off and partially slid away.

This collapse got here within the type of enormous rockfalls and landslides, which slipped downwards and unfold broadly throughout the encompassing plains.

Because the landslides moved away from Olympus Mons and traveled throughout the Martian floor they turned alternately compressed and stretched — crumpled and pulled aside.

This created the attribute wrinkles seen in these new photographs of Lycus Sulci.

This image from ESA’s Mars Express shows the wrinkled surroundings of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano not only on Mars but in the Solar System. This feature, created by previous landslides and lava-driven rockfalls, is named Lycus Sulci. This image comprises data gathered by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on January 18, 2023. It was created using data from the nadir channel, the field of view aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, and the color channels of the instrument. Image credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

This picture from ESA’s Mars Categorical exhibits the wrinkled environment of Olympus Mons, the most important volcano not solely on Mars however within the Photo voltaic System. This characteristic, created by earlier landslides and lava-driven rockfalls, is known as Lycus Sulci. This picture includes knowledge gathered by the Excessive Decision Stereo Digital camera on January 18, 2023. It was created utilizing knowledge from the nadir channel, the sector of view aligned perpendicular to the floor of Mars, and the colour channels of the instrument. Picture credit score: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Following its formation, Lycus Sulci turned much more distinguished over time as wind whipped throughout the Martian floor, eroding its materials.

This wind additionally picked up mud and carried it far and vast throughout Mars, later scattering this effective sand over close by hills and ridges.

Single landslides of the sort skilled by Olympus Mons could be tons of of meters thick.

Nevertheless, for this behemoth, which noticed a number of colossal and overlapping collapses, they are often as much as two kilometers thick.

This superposition of landslides could be seen clearly within the picture; the wrinkled terrain to the correct of the body is older than the overlying crumples to the left, which flowed down the volcano’s slopes later in Mars’s historical past.

Regardless of their otherworldly dimensions, Mars’s volcanoes present similarities to these we see on Earth.

Comparable landslides — in kind, if not in scale — could be seen across the volcanic islands of Hawaii and the Canary Islands, which have seen massive rockfalls previously.

One other characteristic highlighting the really immense proportions of Olympus Mons could be seen to the correct of the body in Yelwa Crater.

Though dwarfed by the in depth Lycus Sulci, this crater is over 8 km in diameter — simply shy of Mount Everest’s elevation above sea stage.

Yelwa Crater is located over 1,000 km from the height of Olympus Mons, demonstrating simply how far the harmful landslides traveled from the volcano’s flanks earlier than settling.

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