7 Ways Other Planets (and Moons) Have Earth Beat

Sure, our little planet might have the only known life in the universe, but there are places in our celestial backyard that have us soundly beat in the record books.

Sure, our little planet might have the only known life in the universe, but there are places in our celestial backyard that have us soundly beat in the record books.
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Tallest Mountain/Volcano
Forget Everest and those volcanoes in Hawaii. Olympus Mons dominates the Martian landscape, standing tall at a whopping 15.5 miles. Everest, for comparison, is just 5.5 miles above sea level.

Olympus Mons grew to its Olympian proportions because the Martian surface, unlike the crust of the Earth, is largely immobile. While hot spots on the Earth can create a series of volcanoes as the Earth's crust moves over them (think Hawaii), the hot spot under Olympus Mons just kept erupting in the same place on the crust, building a massive mountain.

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NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Coolest Geyser Plume
Old Faithful looks like a broken water fountain when compared with the spectacular plume of icy material that erupts from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Scientists think that the conditions there (carbon, nitrogen, and liquid water) make it an ideal place to look for life in our solar system.

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Fastest Winds
Neptune has the fastest measured wind speed of any place in the solar system, with some winds speeding around the planet at 1304 mph. And you thought tornadoes were impressive.

The fastest officially recorded wind gust on Earth is 253 mph, recorded in Australia during Tropical Cyclone Olivia in 1996. There are also unofficial estimates of faster wind speeds (over 300 mph) that occur during tornadoes, but those wind speeds are estimated by radar, not directly measured.

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Most Hydrocarbons
It's the dream of every oil company CEO. On the moon Titan, methane literally rains from the sky, creating lakes of liquid methane on the surface, including the excellently named Kraken Mare. Titan also boasts vast swaths of hydrocarbon dunes on its surface. Unfortunately, we won't be visiting in the near future, as another Mars mission was chosen ahead of the Titan Mare project last August.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Deepest Crater
Earth's swiftly moving tectonic plates erase most of the craters left by meteorites that make it to our planet's surface. Other planets keep their blemishes. The largest confirmed impact crater is the Utopia Planitia on Mars, with a diameter of 2100 miles. But the prize for coolest crater has to go to Mimas, which has one that makes the moon eerily resemble the Death Star.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Wildest Temperature Swing
Warm winds might presage a hurricane here on Earth, but our temperature swings are nothing compared with the 150-degree-Fahrenheit jump in temperature that happened on Saturn in 2010, accompanied by a huge vortex of ethylene in the midst of a storm, which briefly exceeded the size of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Hot pockets of atmospheric gases seem to drive the storms of Saturn, just as warm waters fuel hurricanes here on Earth.

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Longest-Lived Storm
Storms appear on Saturn and Neptune and over the poles of Venus, but the undisputed king is the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, which has been roiling since humanity began observing it through the telescope, more than 300 years ago.

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