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Solar System Mountains

Majestic Mountains

Destinations: Mountains are prevalent not only on Earth, but found on many planets and moons throughout our solar system. Most mountains, as we know them on Earth, were formed by geologic processes caused by the convergence of tectonic plates.

The highest mountains on Earth are the Himalyas, which can readily be seen from space. Some mountains throughout the solar system were formed, not from plate tectonic processes, but from volcanic activity specifically, lava flows causing upthrusts of rock to form mountain regions. One such example of this type is Tohil Mons, a mountain found on Jupiter's moon, Io. Other mountains, such as on our own Moon, or Mercury were probably created near the time of the their formation.

There are still many mysteries to uncover about the nature of mountain formation in our solar system. Recently on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn scientists, discovered a large equatorial ridge on Saturn's moon Iapetus and active geological processes on the moon Enceladus. As we continue to explore planets and moons, we will undoubtedly discover more ways in which mountains are formed.

Missions: The European spacecraft Corot is scheduled to launch this month. Once in orbit around Earth, Corot is designed to search for habitable planets around other stars.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the latest spacecraft to orbit Mars. It is returning many high-resolution images of Mars surface, including mountains.

Features: There are several features on our website to help you learn more about some of the many mountains and planetary/moon surfaces in our solar system - Big Mountain, Big Landslide on Jupiter's Moon, Io, Volcanism on Io, Titan's Surface Revealed, Europa's Salty Surface, and Uranus, Neptune, and the Mountains of the Moon.

Fast Lesson Finder: K-12 Activities: Search our Fast Lesson Finder to find classroom lessons related to our solar system and beyond. Some activities related to this month's theme includes Building Blocks of Planets , Changes Inside Planets, Edible Rocks, Geologic Landforms Seen on Aerial Photos , Lunar Surface and Strange New Planet.

People: Meet Carol Raymond: Assists in leading the Dawn mission to the asteroids Ceres and Vesta. While there may not exist traditional mountains on Ceres or Vesta, there might be large, high altitude features of interest that will picque our interest when we explore these surfaces.

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Last Updated: 4 Dec 2006