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Daily News Analysis


3rd July, 2024 Science and Technology


Source: Moneycontrol

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  • On March 11, 2024, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter captured a remarkable image of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in our solar system.
  • The Mars Odyssey mission, operational since 2001, has provided extensive data on Mars' geology, environment, and potential for life.


Olympus Mons

  • Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system, located on the planet Mars.
  • It is a shield volcano, similar in structure to the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands, but on a much larger scale.


  • Location: Tharsis region
  • Height: Approximately 22 kilometers
  • Diameter: Around 600 kilometers
  • Age: Estimated to be around 200 million years old

Geographical Features

  • Size and Scale
    • Olympus Mons is about 2.5 times the height of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth.
    • Its diameter is nearly equivalent to the size of France, highlighting its massive expanse.
  • Caldera
    • The summit of Olympus Mons features a caldera (a large volcanic crater) which is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide.
    • The caldera consists of multiple overlapping collapse craters, indicating a complex volcanic history with multiple eruptive events.
  • Slopes
    • The slopes of Olympus Mons are gentle, with an average incline of 5 degrees, typical of shield volcanoes.
    • The flanks are covered with lava flows and channels, suggesting that the volcano has produced fluid basaltic lava.
  • Basal Cliff
    • The volcano is surrounded by a steep cliff or escarpment, known as the basal scarp, which rises 6 to 8 kilometers (4 to 5 miles) above the surrounding plains.


  • Space Missions:Various Mars missions, including those by NASA and ESA, have provided detailed imagery and data on Olympus Mons.
  • Observations:Instruments on orbiters such as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey have captured high-resolution images and conducted spectroscopic analysis of the region.

Mars Odyssey

  • Type:Orbiter
  • Operator:NASA
  • Launch Date:April 7, 2001
  • Launch Vehicle:Delta II rocket


  • Geological Mapping:To map the distribution of minerals and chemical elements on Mars' surface.
  • Climate and Atmospheric Studies:To study the planet's climate and atmospheric conditions.
  • Radiation Environment:To assess the radiation environment to aid future human exploration.
  • Support for Other Missions:To serve as a relay station for data transmission between Mars surface missions and Earth.

Key Instruments

  • Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS): Captures high-resolution images and temperature data of the Martian surface.
  • Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS): Measures gamma rays emitted by Mars' surface. Determines the elemental composition, including the detection of hydrogen which implies water or ice.
  • Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE): Measures radiation levels in Mars' orbit. Provides data crucial for assessing the risk to future human explorers.




Q: Critically analyze the significance of Mars missions for scientific research and technological advancement. Discuss the contributions of various countries to Mars exploration and the potential implications for future space missions and international collaboration. (250 Words)