In the past 50 years, scientists have obtained an incredible amount of information about the geology of our solar system. Strange and impressive planetary geological discoveries like Mars's Olympus Mons, made by Mariner 9 in 1971, the volcanoes of Venus, observed by the Magellan spacecraft in 1991, and the Beagle Rupes, spotted by the Messenger spacecraft when it flew past Mercury for the first time in 2008, have opened our eyes as to what is actually out there in our solar system.
The four terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars, as well as the icy but solid dwarf planets of Ceres and Pluto are host to incredible geological features that put Earth's Grand Canyon and The Great Blue Hole to shame. There are mountains on other planets three times the height of Mount Everest, craters you can see with a telescope from Earth, and many other extraterrestrial structures that will leave you in awe. These geological features are some of the very coolest on our solar system's planets.
The Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest volcano in our solar system—it stands 16 miles high and stretches 374 miles across, making it three times taller than Mount Everest and roughly the size of Arizona. Olympus Mons has taken billions of years to form.
Scientists think that Mars's lower surface gravity, limited tectonic plate movement, and high eruption rates have all contributed to the formation of this beast.
The surface of Jupiter's moon Europa is covered with a complex and beautiful set of cracks. Scientists suspect the icy crust of the moon hides a deep liquid ocean covering a rocky surface below. They believe these cracks are the result of tidal forces on the ocean beneath the surface.
Two distinct bright spots are nestled within the Occator crater on Ceres, which is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. These spots shine 40% brighter than the rest of the planet's surface. After laypeople pointed to these areas as proof of an alien civilization, scientists discovered a much less exciting explanation—they are in fact huge salt deposits.
This three-dimensional perspective of Maat Mons on Venus was captured from radar data taken from the Magellan spacecraft in 1991. This shield volcano stands five miles tall, and fresh, dark lava extends for hundreds of miles in the foreground, perhaps flowing from a relatively recent eruption, which occurred 10 to 20 million years ago.