We all know about the Mount Everest being the highest mountain in the world with a high of 8,848 meters, but is it the highest one we know? No, the highest mountain we know it is not on this planet but on Mars, called Olympus Mons, is the highest mountain we know and its peak is 16 miles high, making it nearly 3 times highest than Mount Everest.
Olympus Mons is still a relatively young volcano. Altough it has taken billions of years to form, some regions of the mountain may be only a few million years old, relatively young in the lifetime of the solar system. As such, Olympus Mons may still be an active volcano with the potential to erupt.
Olympus Mons was described by astronomers as far back as the 19th century. The Olympus name came from the mountain home of the 12 Greek gods. It was Giovanni Schiaparelli who first named it Nix Olympica ( Snows of Olympus ) in 1879 when he observed it as a light colored spot. Then name was later changed to Olympus Mons later when it was better visualized and determined to be a volcano.
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano with very broad gradual slopes created by lava flows. It is 22 km higher than the surrounding plains area ( 27km from the average surface height on Mars) and 550km wide. Think of it as being the size of the state of Arizona, but three times higher than Mt. Everest. The crater at the top is 80km long and is actually a complex of six craters that spans 60km wide and 3km deep. The broad slopes abruptly end in cliffs that are6km tall.
Images taken with the Express Orbiter in 2004 helped to assess the age of Olympus Mons through crater analysis.The number of craters suggests that areas of Olympus Mons range in age from approximately 2 million-115 million years old. Since 2 million years is relatively recent, there may still be actively beneath the surface and more eruptions.
There is so much to discover about Mars as it is peppered with many amazing surface features such as volcanoes and valleys. It is the home to impressive Valles Marineris system of canyons. It is also the site of four giant shield volcanoes: Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons, Ascraeus Mons and Olympus Mons.