These Are The Most Mars-Like Locations On Earth – Forbes
Illustration of an astronaut watching the sunrise on Mars
The next few years should present some exciting developments in humankind’s trajectory toward our planetary neighbor, Mars. From Elon Musk’s dream to build a colony on the red planet to NASA’s ongoing though flexible-timeline Artemis mission, eventually all eyes will turn toward Mars when the first astronaut puts boots on the ground.
Though we’re not there yet, there are places right here on Earth where you can experience Mars-like conditions. Some are easier to reach than others, and some are prime spots for researchers hoping to unlock the secrets of life on Mars and the planet’s history, these Mars-like locations on Earth offer at least armchair inspiration for Earth-bound travelers.
BURDUR, TURKEY – SEPTEMBER 16 : Aerial view of Lake Salda is seen as people enjoy the warm weather … [+] in the Yesilova District of Burdur, Turkey on September 16, 2018. Lake Salda is the deepest lake of Turkey with a depth of 184 meters. (Photo by Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
While Mars isn’t exactly known for its water, there are other aspects that make Turkey’s Lake Salda comparable with the red planet.
Specifically, Lake Salda is a crater lake, similar to the craters on Mars that researchers believe were once filled with water like Lake Salda is today. In fact, in early 2021, NASA revealed that Lake Salda shares similar minerology and geology with the Jezero Crater on Mars, where the Perseverance rover touched down in February.
CANADA JULY 2015 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): The Haughton Impact Crater is located in Northern Canada on … [+] July 13, 2015. The 39 million year old asteroid impact created a crater about 23km in diameter. (Photo by USGS/NASA Landsat data/Orbital Horizon/Gallo Images/Getty images)
If you’re looking for a place on earth that resembles the dusty, windswept, dry but bitterly cold climes of Mars, head to northern Canada. On the huge uninhabited Devon Island, you’ll find Haughton Crater, which formed 23-32 million years ago when a 2-kilometer object struck the earth.
Today, researchers have dubbed the area “Mars on Earth,” thanks to the crater’s similar geology and climatology to the red planet. NASA plans to set up a research project dubbed the Haughton-Mars Project, which will address issues with communications, equipment testing, and vehicular and extra-vehicular operations that future Mars missions are likely to encounter – but with the ability to address emergencies without a multi-month journey from Earth.
A Hiker on a Ridge in the Desert in Wadi Rum, Jordan
You’ve seen it as Mars on the silver screen – and other planets too (Arrakis in Dune, LV223 in Prometheus) – so it’s no surprise that Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert is considered one of the most Mars-like locations on earth… but with a lot more atmosphere, thankfully.
Wadi Rum actually means “Valley of the Moon” though the reddish colors of rock formations and sand make it an obvious contender for anyone – tourist or filmmaker –who wants to imagine themselves on our planetary neighbor.
Visiting Wadi Rum is relatively easy if you find yourself in Jordan, and there are a number of tour operators who offer open-air 4×4 tours and camel rides. While that certainly tones down the Martian aspects of visiting Wadi Rum, spending the night in a “Martian dome” is still thrilling.
The smoking crater of the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island, Hawaii archipelago, in Volcanoes … [+] National Park, after the eruption of lava in summer 2018, from the air.
Hawaii is a great destination for many astronomy experiences – the islands offer some fantastic stargazing, and some of the world’s top observatories are located on the Big Island.
In addition to looking upward, researchers in Hawaii noticed how the slopes of one huge volcano, Mauna Loa, serve as a good proxy for the barren and stark landscape of Mars. With that in mind, NASA launched the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) – which was perhaps made most famous by the podcast The Habitat.
While you can’t just stroll up and join a mission, there are some great stargazing tours on Mauna Loa offered almost every night the skies are clear.
(GERMANY OUT) Namibia, Tote Baeume in Deadvlei, Sossusvlei (Photo by Dionys Moser/McPhoto/ullstein … [+] bild via Getty Images)
Cut off from water sources, the clay pan of Deadvlei is aptly named: it means “dead marsh” and describes the once-forest of acacia trees that once thrived in this area during wetter times, but now as stand sun-scorched specters.
While Deadvlei isn’t specifically used by researchers and is less commonly visited than other Mars-like destinations on this list, it does provide a useful analog for understanding what happens in a climate when water goes away: Deadvlei was cut off from its river source about 900 years ago, and shows how quickly the land changes. This helps researchers studying Mars understand how ecosystems on the red planet have changed through billions of years of Mars history.
TOPSHOT – This general view shows an aerial view of Blood Falls and the Taylor Glacier near McMurdo … [+] Station on November 11, 2016 while in flight during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Antarctica. Kerry is travelling to Antarctica, New Zealand, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and will attend the APEC summit in Peru later in the month. / AFP / POOL / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)
While you might think of Mars as hot, it’s actually not – which makes the hot desert climates of Earth poor substitutes for certain types of research. Instead, Mars ranges from about 70°F (20°C) on a ‘hot’ summer day to -100°F (-73°C) at night. That sounds more like Antarctica than the other more equatorial destinations on this list.
In the early 2000s, the European Space Agency (ESA) was eager to use Antarctica for practicing for Mars missions, and two decades later, NASA researchers are looking for life in Antarctica using the same techniques and data that they do on Mars. While research continues in both places, scientists are confident that their work on Earth will eventually unlock mysteries of the red planet.
via Inferse.com https://www.inferse.com
May 13, 2022 at 07:39PM