1. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Although Hawaii is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and thick tropical forests, this part of Hawaii is known for its volcanoes. The most prominent of these volcanoes is Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big Island, and it has been brought to light in the scientific world because of its similarity to a lunar crater. The permafrost and terrain of this volcano are very similar to the moon which makes it a perfect place to test technology that will look for frozen water on the moon’s surface in the future. NASA runs its large testing project ISRU here and various international powers also test space equipment in the lower part of the crater. If you ever want an interplanetary experience but do not have the money to be sent to space, come to the Big Island of Hawaii.
2. Highlands, Iceland
Iceland is known for its glaciers and icy waters. However, there is a rocky region within this Nordic country called the Highlands. NASA states that the geography of this area is extremely similar to Mars. This is why they currently use it as a research facility to better understand the geology and atmosphere of Mars. The findings scientists gathered from this area have allowed scientists to create better rovers and better understand landing sites on Mars for when the time comes to bring humans there. The volcano eruptions in this region are also almost exactly the same as those on Mars. These eruptions are unique because they erupt in valleys and fill the whole valley creating a lava sea. Understanding the large bodies of lava on Mars is crucial to one day being able to sustain human life there.
3. Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
According to NASA, the Kilauea Volcano is strikingly similar to the Prometheus volcano on Jupiter’s moon, Io. Io is the most volcanically active spot in our solar system, with volcano being able to shoot out lava 200 miles into the air. Although Hawaii is not quite this active, NASA noticed that the Prometheus volcano and the Kilauea volcano both have long-lasting eruptions and lava tubes that create rock formations when they touch the ocean. Through studying Kilauea, scientists have been able to better understand the causes of the heavy eruptions on Io, seeing that the waves and tides of the ocean have a great effect on both volcanos.
4. Devon Island, Canada
Devon Island, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is the largest uninhabited island in Canada. The Mars Institute has been using this island as a research facility since 1997. The terrain of this island is very similar to the terrain of the mountainous part of Mars. This makes the island a perfect place to test space mining technologies. NASA predicts that Mars is filled with hoards of valuable material, making this operation very important for the future. The finite amount of resources on Earth will force us to find them in other areas in the future, space being the obvious first choice. When an adequate solution is found, many future billionaires will be made.
5. Death Valley, California
Death Valley is just about the closest you can get to outer space on Earth. In fact, it is so similar that NASA has been using Death Valley for space equipment testing for dozens of years. Most recently it has been the testing ground of the legendary Curiosity Rover, which was sent to Mars in 2012 in order to find life on the planet. Things like the rover’s rock destroying laser would not have been possible without the terrain of Death Valley. When it comes to space testing, only the driest and hottest place in America will suffice!