Mars on Earth: Scientists look to the Danakil Depression for clues to alien life

Story highlights

  • The Danakil Depression is one of the world's harshest environments
  • New research carried out there could help us understand life on Mars

(CNN)At the juncture of three tectonic plates in northeastern Ethiopia is an other-worldly and sunken plain. The heat quivers here. Rock formations are colored by minerals in oozing volcanic psychedelia. The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest and most hostile places on earth.

Not much can survive in Danakil. The average year-round temperature is 34.4 degrees Celsius and the area gets about 100 millimetres of rain per annum.
At 100 meters below sea level, it's one of the lowest places on earth. It was once the seabed of the Red Sea. Thousands of years later it is a dry and cracked ground.