Want to visit Mars? You can now take a virtual tour of the closest thing on Earth

Devon Island
Image credit: Anthonares, CC BY-SA 3.0

Training for a manned mission to Mars means learning to live in extremely cold, dry, isolated conditions. They're tough conditions to replicate, but there's one place on Earth that comes close – and now you can take a tour of it yourself thanks to Google Earth.

Devon Island, in the Arctic Circle, is the largest uninhabited island in the world, and is so similar to the Martian surface that NASA is using it to prepare astronauts for manned missions to the Red Planet

As Space.com explains, the barren island is home to the NASA Haughton-Mars Project – a field research project dedicated to finding out whether it would be possible for humans to live and thrive on Mars.

Researchers conduct an annual expedition to the island, and last year the team invited a group of explorers from Google along, who have now turned their findings into a guided virtual tour.

Street View, without the streets

Devon Island isn't just similar to Mars in climate, it also shares many of the same geological features, including deep impact craters and steep gullies, which make traversing the martian surface a challenge for vehicles.

Google's team not only documented these features and the Haughton-Mars base camp for Google Earth and Street View, they also produced a documentary on their visit, which you can watch below.


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Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)