Did you know that our planet also exists in places very similar to other planets? Indeed, Earth has many places just like Mars – the fourth planet in the solar system. Although they are all the harshest climates in the world, many scientists reside in these places to test high-tech equipment before being put into space.
Places most similar to Mars on Earth
1. Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert is like a “miniature Mars” located in the middle of the Earth.
The Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, is a 966 km long plateau in South America. The desert is so arid that there is almost no life, like a “miniature Mars” in the middle of the Earth.
In 2004, NASA-sponsored scientists spent four weeks in Atacama studying the scarcity of life there for signs of life on Mars. This desert has become a place where robots have honed their life-sensing skills, helping to search for life on Mars.
Robot funded by NASA for research in the Atacama Desert.
The Atacama Desert has such a harsh climate because the “rain shadow,” a dry area on the coast of the Chilean coast, combines with the cold ocean currents that prevent any moisture from passing through. Some weather stations in the area never receive rain.
However, surprisingly, in 2011 the region caused a sensation around the world with snowfall reaching 80 cm in thickness, which was the heaviest snowfall in the past two decades.
2. Lake Vostok, Antarctica
In 2012, a group of Russian scientists drilled to explore Lake Vostok, which was buried under more than 3 km of Antarctic ice. The event was attended by science enthusiasts around the world in the hopes that the expedition will provide clues on how to survive on icy Mars, where the average temperature is around -80 ° F (- 60 ° VS).
Vostok station of Russia.
Overview of glacial lake Vostok
In fact, ice covered this area of water around 14 to 34 million years ago, making the lake completely separate from the outside world. Scientists suspect that this huge freshwater lake may have been inhabited by cold-loving creatures under the ice for millions of years. This is similar to what is expected on Mars.
3. Pico de Orizaba volcano, Mexico
Pico de Orizaba volcano, Mexico taken from above.
Assuming humans reached Mars and decided to live here, how do you make the red planet a habitable place? This is what Mexican researchers have been studying for years.
On Mexico’s Pico de Orizaba volcano, one of the tallest mountains in the world, scientists are studying how life crept down these cold slopes for the first time. What they found could help transform Mars into a habitable planet.
The Pico de Orizaba volcano, which last erupted in 1846 at 5,675 m above sea level, is both Mexico’s highest peak and North America’s tallest volcano. For years, scientists have searched along this ridge for clues as to how life might begin in climates as extreme as on Mars. What they find here on the extreme fringes of life could encourage future generations to learn more about how to survive on Mars.
4. Ellesmere Island, Canada
Satellite image of Ellesmere Island and its surroundings.
Ellesmere Island is the tenth largest island in the world and the third largest island in Canada. The largest village on the island, Grise Fiord, has 141 inhabitants. In this frozen arctic region, scientists tested a drill rig that could drill Mars for water.
In 2006, NASA engineers spent two weeks drilling a 1.8-meter-deep hole powered by a single bulb (about 60 watts). The tool is a portable hybrid oil rig drilling machine that can be transported to space. In the future, a similar exercise could be used by astronauts to pierce the poles of Mars in search of water and life.
5. Devon Island, Canada
On either side of Haughton Crater.
Devon Island in Canada is also a hotspot for Mars research. It is the largest uninhabited island in the world with a cold and dry climate, like Mars. However, its most attractive natural feature is a 24-kilometer-wide impact crater called the Haughton.
With a distinctive appearance that resembles craters on Mars, this 23 million year old crater is the perfect place to prepare for manned missions to Mars. In fact, the Haughton Hole has been a proving ground for NASA missions since 1997. Scientists recently tested a prototype of large-scale deep drilling on Mars at a site of this particular pit.
6. McMurdo Dry Valley, Antarctica
McMurdo Dry Valley is considered the closest environment to Mars.
The McMurdo Dry Valley is located in western Antarctica. The valley is so named because of its extremely low humidity and the lack of snow and ice. Photosynthetic bacteria live only inside rocks. The Dry McMurdo Valley is considered the closest environment to Mars.
In 2009, scientists from NASA’s IceBite project tested a series of ice drills in the dry McMurdo Valley to see which one would work best for Mars’ future mission to the North Pole.
Scientists believe that the north pole of Mars could have supported life. Several million years ago, this area received more sun. This means that the north pole of Mars could have water, and where there could be, there could be life.
NASA’s Phoenix lander has found a small patch of ice-covered ground in the north polar region of Mars. Additionally, the dry Antarctic Valley is also the only place on Earth where similar structures exist. So here the exploration takes place in the hope that water and life can be found on Mars in the future.
7. Death Valley, California
NASA’s Curiosity Explorer has been fully tested in Death Valley, California. Scientists have tested how Curiosity will handle the extreme terrain of Mars, and Death Valley is once again home to the best fossil stromatolite in western North America.
Researchers have been visiting Death Valley for decades to study ancient rock layers in the desert, learn more about Earth’s history, and prepare for any incidents robots may encounter in the stars.
Curiosity is part of the $ 2.5 billion NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011 at 3:02 p.m. UTC aboard the MSL spacecraft and lands at Aeolis Palus in Mars Gale Crater August 6, 2012. Curiosity’s mission is to find out if Gale Crater has any signs of life.
Death Valley is not a perfect copy of Mars because it is so hot. This valley is known to hold the record for the highest temperature in the Western Hemisphere at 134 degrees F (56.7 degrees C) while the highest temperature on Mars is only around 23 degrees F ( -5 degrees C). However, Death Valley is home to the finest fossil stromatolite in western North America, about 1 billion years old.
Stromatolite is produced by microorganisms that trap sediment and grow in layers. Such a discovery on Mars could suggest a place for microbial life.
Nature is full of surprises, it’s amazing that humans can see with their own eyes the sights that are only on Mars, in their home planet!