There is an initiative out there called Mars One (based in Netherlands) which aims to establish a first Martian colony by 2025. For that, they have already selected about a thousands of people to be the first settlers.
If this plan will happen remains to be discussed, as there are many technical, financial and other challenges the project faces.

A View Into Maria's Pass - Mars, Curiosity rover
Photo: Jason Major, Flickr

But if you want to experience Mars, at least the landscape, you don’t have to go that far.
We have here, on Earth, places which pretty much resemble Mars and those can be visited for a fraction of a fraction of the cost of a mission to Mars.
Bonus, you can even get out alive… which is no small feat considering that some say the people of that Mars colony could be all dead in a matter of months after setting foot on the Martian soil.
Jason Major — who blogs about all things space at Lights in the Dark, Discovery and UniverseToday — assembled the panoramic images of Mars below (you can find more examples on his Flickr page).

Let’s see where on Earth (pun intended) can we spend our time and feel like on Mars.

1) The Atacama Desert in South America is the world’s driest non-polar desert and that makes it a great place to test out future Mars rovers.
In the picture above you can see one of Curiosity’s epic selfies and below is the European Space Agency’s prototype of their 2018 ExoMars mission rovering in the Atacama Desert.

Curiosity Mars rover - Gale crater, ExoMars rover - Atacama desert
2) The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan (below) looks quite similar to its counterpart from Mars (above). Wadi Rum was also used as a background in the movie “Prometheus” by Ridley Scott.

MSL panorama Mars - Wadi Rum desert, Jordan
3) This ridge (above) in the Gale crater (where Mars Curiosity rover landed) shows that rocks on Mars aren’t very different from rocks on Earth. Below is the Wadi Taleshut desert in Libya.

MSL panorama Mars - Wadi Taleshut, Libya
4) On Mars flat valleys (above) look pretty much like the ones along the Badwater basin in the Death Valley National Park (below).

MSL panorama Mars - Death Valley Badwater, USA

 

5) We do have other places in the world which could pose as a Martian landscape.

Petrified Wood, Crystal Forest, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Wood, Crystal Forest, Arizona
Photo: Ken Lund, Flickr

 

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, Near Holbrook, Arizona

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Photo: Ken Lund, Flickr

 

Southern Utah

Southern Utah
Photo: Mars Society

 

Devon Island, Canada

Devon Island, Canada

 

Around Meteor Crater, Arizona

Baringer Meteor crater, Arizona

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