What’s the tallest mountain on Earth? What about in the solar system? Mount Everest, at about 2.9 miles tall from base to peak, is a dwarf when compared to
This is why. Scientists measure mountains from their base to their peak. Mount Everest sits quite a ways above sea level, making it high, but its measurement from base to peak is shorter than the truly tallest mountains. While it may be considered Earth’s highest mountain, it’s not considered the tallest.
Here are the top 10 tallest mountains in the solar system with Earth barely making the list.
10. Mauna Loa, 5.7 miles
Mauna Loa, one of five volcanoes that form the islands of Hawaii, is the largest volcano on Earth and the only mountain on Earth to make the top 10 list. Neighboring Mauna Kea’s considered Hawaii’s highest major mountain peak, standing about 2.6 miles above sea level. That makes it 115 feet higher than Mauna Loa, but Mauna Loa’s taller when measured from its underwater base to its peak.
The mountain emerged above sea level about 400,000 years ago. Mauna Loa is considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes and remains monitored by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory which started tracking it in 1912.
9. Maxwell Montes, 6.8 miles
Maxwell Montes, one of the tallest mountains in the solar system, is the tallest mountain range on Venus. It’s named after Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who formulated the theory of electromagnetic radiation. Maxwell Montes lies on the northern highlands of Ishtar Terra. Scientists at the American Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico first discovered it in 1967. Its visibility from radars on Earth is partly because of an unknown material that scientists believe is an iron-containing mineral that coats the peaks. Speculation is the material may be iron pyrite, known as “fool’s gold,” or magnetite.
8. Elysium Mons, 7.8 miles
Elysium Mons’ the kid brother of mountains of Mars. It’s the second largest volcanic system on Mars and the tallest volcano in the Elysium Planitia region in Mars’ eastern hemisphere. The Mariner 9 orbiter picked up images of Elysium Mons in 1972.
7. Pavonis Mons, 8.7 miles
The shield volcano Pavonis Mons sits in the middle of three volcanic mountains on Mars known as the Tharsis Montes. The Mariner 9 picked up images of Pavonis Mons in 1971. Scientists believe there were once glaciers on Pavonis Mars that may still be there and theorize these and other glaciers on the planet may make it hospitable to human life some day. The band The Flaming Lips refers to the volcano in its song “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon.”
6. Arsia Mons, 9.9 miles
Arsia Mons, the southernmost volcano of the Tharsis Montes region, sits south of the planet’s equator. It lies southeast of Olympus Mons, the solar system’s tallest volcano.
Arsia Mons, a shield volcano, has 30 times the volume of Mauna Loa. It is 270 miles in diameter. Its caldera formed when the volcano exhausted its reservoir of magma and the mountain collapsed in on itself. Scientists believe there may still be glaciers on Arsia Mons.
5. Boösaule Montes, 10.9 miles
The Boösaule Montes is one of the tallest mountains in the solar system and the highest mountain of Jupiter’s moon Io. It’s also one of the tallest non-volcanic mountains of the solar system. Boösaule Montes South is the tallest of three mountains that make up the mountain range.
4. Ascraeus Mons, 11.3 miles
The tallest and northernmost of Tharsis Montes, Ascraeus Mons is Mars’ second highest mountain. It bears similarity to shield volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands. When originally viewed, scientists called it North Spot because it was the northernmost of four spots visible on Mars’ surface. When a global dust storm cleared away, scientists could spot the three volcanoes.
3. Equatorial Ridge of Iapetus, 12.4 miles
The equatorial ridge located on Saturn’s Iapetus moon appears to be walnut-shaped. The Cassini spacecraft discovered it in 2004. Not much is known about how the ridge formed.
2. Rheasilvia Mons, 13.2 miles
Rheasilvea Mons, one of the tallest mountains in the solar system, isn’t on any of the planets or their moons. It’s located on the asteroid Vesta. The Hubble spacecraft first picked up images of the mountain in 1997 but it didn’t get named until 2011. Its’s believed to be an impact crater, a depression on the surface of the moon or another body in the solar system that’s caused by a hypervelocity impact with a smaller body.
1. Olympus Mons, 15.5 miles
Olympus Mons at 15.5 miles tall is the solar system’s tallest mountain and the largest volcano on Mars. Olympus Mons stands about three times as tall as Mount Everest. It stretches across the surface about 374 miles, which is close to the size of the state of Arizona. Mauna Loa could fit inside Olympus Mons, which has about 100 times more volume than Mauna Loa.
Why is it such a monster compared to Earth’s mountains? Scientists speculate it may be because Mars has a lower surface gravity and its volcanoes may have higher eruption rates. Mars’ limited plate movement may also account for the size difference.