Of all the diverse landscapes on Earth, the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica may be the most like Mars. Extremely cold and extremely dry, the Dry Valleys are
located near McMurdo Sound on the coast of Antarctica (roughly 77° South, 161° East). Unlike the rest of the continent, the McMurdo Dry Valleys are primarily free of snow and ice. This image shows water-carved channels along the lower slopes of Wright Valley. Scientists compare satellite and airborne images of the Dry Valleys with images taken from orbit around Mars. Similar features on Mars acquired by the Mars Orbital Camera suggest that the Red Planet had liquid water in the past.
This image was acquired by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite, with a resolution of 2 meters per pixel.
One of the few areas of Antarctica not covered by thousands of meters of ice, the McMurdo Dry Valleys stand out in this satellite image. For a few weeks each summer temperatures are warm enough to melt glacial ice, creating streams that feed freshwater lakes that lie at the bottom of the valleys.