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10 places on Earth that resemble alien planets

By: Bryan Nelson on March 1, 2013, 1:03 p.m.
Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Photo: D.W. Peterson/National Park Service

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Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Venus has more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system, and its landscape is dominated by far-reaching lava plains that are mostly basaltic in composition. These kinds of lava flows are typical output of shield volcanoes, like Hawaii's Kīlauea. In fact, Hawaii's Big Island represents the largest single volcanic complex on Earth, which probably makes its myriad of slick, black, basaltic landscapes the closest analogue we have to what the Venusian surface looks like.

The landscape surrounding Kīlauea also offers a glimpse of what landscapes look like on other volcanically active bodies in our solar system — most notably, Jupiter's moon Io. This is especially true when Kīlauea is erupting, as Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system. Witnessing the red-orange lava of Kīlauea coat over the terrain in the dark of night is possibly the closest analogue we have to the experience of an Io vista. That is, sans the view of Jupiter hanging in the sky instead of our moon.