Volcanoes in Space & Strange Facts
Volcanoes have fascinated people around the world since ancient times. Even myths and legends were created to explain the behaviour of these fire-breathing mountains.
The word ‘volcano’ is derived from the Roman God of Fire: “Vulcan”. As the mythical inventor of smithing & metal working, he is said to have made weapons for the other gods in his forge. Ancient Romans believed that when a volcano erupted, it was Vulcan working in his forge. The Greeks had a counterpart to the Roman God of Fire. He was Hephaestus, son of Zeus and Hara.
Starting with the furthest from the Sun, Triton the largest of Neptune’s 13 moons has cryovolcanoes. A volcano that erupts volatiles such as water, ammonia or methene, instead of molten rock. After eruption, it condenses into solid form when exposed to the very low surrounding temperature. They form on icy moons and other low temperature astronomical objects. One of the largest volcanic eruptions occurred in Siberia and this region of basaltic lava flows is known as the ‘Siberian Traps’.
Venus is covered with volcanoes. We can’t see through its thick atmosphere, but with the use of radar, we know that Venus has more volcanoes on its surface than any other place in the solar system. About 65 million years ago a series of massive eruptions spilled about 512,000 cubic Kms of basaltic lava over West-Central India. Today the formation is known as Deccan Traps. This geological resulted in the mass extinction of Dinosaurs.
Jupiter is home to some of the most impressive volcanoes in our solar system. Lo is the most volcanically active in the solar system and its volcanoes are so powerful that they can be seen with large telescopes. Benjamin Franklin was the first American to make the connection between volcanism and climate change.
Olympus Mons, at 14 miles high is the largest known volcano in the solar system. It is in Mars and is a gigantic shield volcano, which was formed after the lava slowly crawled down its slopes. At its summit, is a spectacular depression of 85 Kms wide.
Tharsis, the region in Mars hosts twelve gigantic volcanoes in a zone roughly 4000 kms wide. These volcanoes tend to me larger than those on Earth, probably because Mars has a weaker gravitational pull that allows the volcanoes to grow taller. These volcanoes may have erupted as long as 2 million years.
There are no active volcanoes in Mercury. Active volcanoes occur on planets that are still hot. In general, the larger the planet, the slower it cools. Mercury and Moon have cooled to the point that they are no longer hot enough to melt rock.
Ahuna Mons, mountain on the Dwarf planet: a small planetary mass object that is in direct orbit of the Sun. it is named after the traditional post-harvest festival of Sumi Naga people of India. This volcano has huge deposits of Salt.
Saturn has a plenty of cryovolcanoes and with Saturn’s massive gravitational pull, it bends and wraps the planet. This creates friction and heat. The heat has to escape somehow. When it does, it creates beautiful eruptions that can be seen by distant spacecraft.
The name ‘Fuji’ is derived from an Ainu word meaning ‘fire’ or ‘deity of fire’. The Japanese believed that the god was very powerful, so it needed to be placated. A shrine was built at the foot of the volcano in 806 AD in order to keep the mountain from erupting. The Mount Fuji erupted in AD 864. Over time, the fierce god of Mt Fuji has metamorphosed into the gentler Shinto goddess of Flowering Trees- Kohohana Sakuya Hime. Mt Fuji last erupted on 16th December 1707.
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