They say everything is bigger in Texas, but sometimes they are bigger on Mars.

The largest known volcano in our solar system is Olympus Mons located on  Mars. While it reaches about 13 miles above the planet's surface, this Volcano is about 327 miles at its base. That's roughly the same width as the state of Colorado.

In a 1970s NASA pamphlet that was shared on Reddit, the comparison was illustrated in a map drawing. The map shows the size of Colorado compared to the volcano on Mars. The pamphlet talks about, what was at the time, the upcoming Viking space probes which would reach the red planet in 1976. According to the pamphlet, Olympus Mons is "twice as broad and at least as high" as the largest volcanic formation on Earth, the Hawaiin Islands. However, modern measurements of the martian volcano are somewhat different and a bit more definitive.

NASA/JPL/USGS

To put this in perspective, consider one of the largest volcanoes on Earth, Hawaii's Mauna Loa, towering more than 30,000 feet. It spans a width of about 75 miles. Quite a contrast to the huge wingspan of Oympua Mona on Mars pictured above.

Another way to look at it is this. Look at the map above and consider Grand Junction is at the very outer edge of the volcano's base. Looking straight down from space, the mouth of the volcano looks to be in the neighborhood of Breckenridge. That's how far you would have to travel from Grand Junction to reach the top of the volcano.

The video below explores in more depth the magnitude of Olympus Mons, and compares its size to the state of Arizona. Personally, I like NASA's 1970s comparison to Colorado better. The video also explains the difference in the way volcanoes are formed on earth compared to Mars.

 

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