Mars is the owner of the tallest volcano in the entire solar system. At 21.9 kilometers, Mount Olympus is almost three times the size of the largest mountain on earth, Everest. Recent data on this giant mountain, published in a European Space Agency (ESA) report, shows that the red planet had water in the past.
Data from Jezero Crater, also on Mars, suggested this possibility, as it is believed that there is a layer of ice in this hole that could contain water at depth. What was found on Mount Olympus, however, testifies that the currents were abundant on the surface of the red planet.
New data is obtained from old images. ESA scientists applied typographic methods to photos of Mount Olympus taken by NASA’s Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter mission in 2004, the European agency reports on its website.
They created a kind of context map, noting how the inner flanks of Olympus catastrophically collapsed about 100 million years ago.
The ESA report reveals that large volumes of lava once flowed from the volcano, triggering landslides that tumbled down its flanks and struck bedrock—in this case, bedrock containing ice and water.
The wavy shapes seen around the volcano are explained by ESA in this way.
“Suffocating lava melted this ice and made it unstable. As a result, the cliff edge of Mount Olympus broke and partially slid off. This collapse took the form of massive rockfalls and landslides that tumbled down and spread far across the surrounding plains.