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10 places on Earth that resemble alien planets

By: Bryan Nelson on March 1, 2013, 1:03 p.m.
Etosha pan, Namibia

Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons

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Etosha pan, Namibia

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has long been considered a leading candidate for extraterrestrial life, in part because of the similarities it shares with early Earth models in its geology and atmosphere. For instance, Titan is the only object other than Earth that showcases clear evidence of stable bodies of liquid on its surface. The only catch? The liquid is not water. Titan is covered in hydrocarbon seas.

One of Titan's largest hydrocarbon lakes is called Ontario Lacus, which is comparable in size to our Great Lakes. A recent flyover by the NASA Cassini spacecraft found that the lake is extremely shallow, and likely resembles and behaves like a salt pan here on Earth. Perhaps the most astute comparison is the Etosha pan in Namibia.

While the environment of Titan is far different from that of the Etosha pan in composition, the appearance and behavior of Ontario Lacus ought to be similar to its Earth analogue. Of course, as a vacationer you'll appreciate the distinction. You can enjoy the scenery without having to worry about a toxic atmosphere!