UAE’s Hope probe is one of three Mars missions that arrived in February this year, one after the other. Its instruments are now producing images and data as it orbits the red planet at various altitudes. The image above was released last month and shows Olympus Mons, which with its 21 km (13.6 miles or 72,000 ft) height is the tallest volcano and mountain of the solar system (a good pop-quiz question to keep in mind!). You can also see the three sister volcanoes – the Tharsis Montes – along the edge of the planet from this view.
Olympus Mons, which is latin for Mount Olympus (the tallest mountain in Greece and also where the gods from Greek mythology supposedly hung out), is a so called shield volcano that stands on the edge of the Tharsis, an ancient vast volcanic plateau. It’s massive – on Earth it would cover a substantial portion of France – and is the youngest of the Mars volcanos, formed about 3,700 to 3,000 million years ago during an age called the Hesperian period (this corresponds roughly to the Archean Eon on Earth).
It is believed that Olympus Mons was formed over a long stretch of time by basaltic lava flows, occurring over and over again. The most similar mountains on Earth are the shield volcanoes of the Hawaiian islands.
More images from Hope:
Bottom line: The Hope probe – the Mars mission of the United Arab Emirates – is producing images and collecting data. Images here.
Theresa Wiegert is a Swedish-Canadian astronomer with a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a master's in physics. She has loved the sky and everything in it and beyond ever since she was four years old and asked her father about the very bright star she saw one early Christmas morning. Learning it wasn’t a star but the planet Venus, she started reading anything astronomy-related she could find. Eventually she ended up as a radio astronomer, researching gas in spiral galaxies. She loves science outreach and teaching, especially showing the night sky to groups of kids (and adults!).