Chilean desert resembles mars

Added On April 16, 2019


Scientists in Chile's Atacama Desert are conducting experiments to see what life might look like on the surface of Mars.

Lifestyles takes you there.


The Salar de Yungay, in Chile's Atacama Desert, has a number of features that resemble the surface of Mars. 

Over the past 30 years, the international scientific community has used the unique location to conduct scientific studies.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish): BERNADITA VALENZUELA, Researcher, University of Antofagasta

"The structure of the rocks, the type of soil, the type of salts you find, the high radiation and the extreme dryness of the place make you think that the Yungay is an auspicious site for the study of life on other planets."

Scientists here are currently studying the minimum conditions for an ecosystem--maybe on a planet like Mars or the moon--to support life.

Some scientists at the Solar Platform of the Atacama Desert are also using the area to study energy.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish): EDWARDS FUENTEALBA, Center of Energy Development of Antofagasta

"In this project, it is a center of photovoltaic solar energy where different types of existing technologies are tested on the market, and also future technologies that can be employed in desert zones with high radiation." 

The Atacama is the perfect place for a wide range of studies, especially ones relating to astronomy. 

Some centers in the area, including the country's first observatory, also help educate future stargazers.