Atacama Desert

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The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the driest in the world as it records, on average, about 1 mm of rainfall annually. This lack of rain is due to a semi-permanent area of high atmospheric pressure in the southeast Pacific Ocean along with a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America. Despite its dry climate, there are mountain peaks within the Atacama that are topped with snow. The Atacama Desert is an extraterrestrial landscape on earth, making it prime for space study and observation. The soil is similar to samples found on Mars, making this area of the world perfect for testing space vehicle prototypes. This region also boasts more than 300 days a year of clear skies, making it one of the best places in the world for space observatories. It’s also the location of the world’s largest ground telescope, ALMA.