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Top 5 Travel Destinations on Earth That Mirror Other Planets

Oct 26, 2016 07:02 AM EDT

There's a good chance humans will be able to conquer other planets someday. For now, this dream remains in the distant future and people will have to remain earth-bound. Here are five surreal landscapes that's (almost) as good as exploring space.

Highlands, Iceland

Boasting one of the most jaw-dropping landscapes on the planet, it's not surprising that the otherworldly beauty of Iceland is comparable with other planets as well. According to a report from Iceland Monitor, the central highlands of the country are an analog of Mars because of the gigantic volcanic activity and the interaction between fire and ice in this unique setting. "You wouldn't find it in Italy or Hawaii, but in Iceland, these large fissure eruptions that happen every few hundred years really are our best window into understanding the mega-eruptions that have affected Mars' history," NASA HiRise team volcanologist Christopher Hamilton said.

Death Valley, California

The Death Valley, known as a hot, dry place that has the lowest elevation in North America, is another destination that's a testing ground of NASA. According to a report from Smithsonian Magazine, the craggy landscape of the national park was used to test for the Curiosity Rover's stint in Mars back in 2012.

Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Jupiter's moon Io is the most active volcanic spot in the entire solar system, a report from Smithsonian Magazine revealed. While that's certainly notable, NASA scientists say that the moon actually bears a few resemblances to Earth's own Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, specifically both hotspots' "long-lived" eruptions as well as lava tubes and products plumes.

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

See the Milky Way up close deep in the Waitomo Caves. According to Conde Nast Traveler, bioluminescent larvae in the caves produce mucus that glows brightly in the cave -- even more dazzling than most views of the sky throughout the planet.

Charamel, Mauritius

Making this list for the simple fact that it's unseen anywhere else on Earth, the sand dunes in Mauritius offers a stunning stretch of dunes in stripes of seven different colors: red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple, and yellow. A report from CNN revealed that the phenomenon has scientists puzzled, and even more mysteriously, the sand does not erode even in the wake of heavy rain.

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