Sunday, May 17, 2009

Monumental prize for first team to reach summit of Olympus Mons

The Earth and Space Foundation, which funds expeditions that bridge the gap between Earth and space exploration, has created awards for future human expeditions on Mars, including one for the first team to reach the summit of Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the Solar System and nearly three times as tall as Mount Everest.

According to the foundation’s website, the Olympus Mountaineering Award was established in 1994 and “The attempt on the summit of Mount Olympus must begin from the Tharsis plains surrounding the base of the volcano. No technological support, other than that required for life support and basic mountaineering, can be used. The team must reach the summit, which is here defined as the highest point on the caldera of Mount Olympus. Any route to the caldera, even given the low angle of ascent of much of the surface, is acceptable."

In a recent article at, Charles Cockell, a microbiologist at the Open University in the United Kingdom who helped found the Earth and Space Foundation, said: "For the summit of Olympus award, we have a piece of rock from the summit of Mount Everest and a plaque. We also put $10,000 into a high interest account, and the money will just sit there. In a hundred years time, when someone comes to claim it, the award will be substantial."

Interested in reading a neat piece of SF flash fiction about scaling Olympus Mons? Check out "The Elcano Syndrome" (2008), by Gustavo Bondoni, winner of the 2008 Marooned Award for Best Flash Fiction.

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