Ethiopia's Danakil Depression is a window into another world

By Chris Giles, CNN

Updated 11:34 AM ET, Thu July 19, 2018
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In spring 2016, scientists studied the Danakil Depression, in Ethiopia, in an attempt to understand how life could exist on Mars. Courtesy: Soz Moss
"We identified the Danakil Depression as a very extreme environment where the conditions in which life could exist would be amazing," explains researcher Felipe Gómez Gómez. Courtesy: Soz Moss
His team, researchers from the University of Bologna and the International Research School of Planetary Science, traveled to Danakil to study extremophiles, resilient organisms that can exist in harsh conditions. Carl Court/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
This hypersaline lake, called Lake Afrera, can be seen in this image taken by the NASA Terra spacecraft. NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
It is one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on Earth, but Ethiopians continue a centuries-old industry of mining salt from the ground by hand. Carl Court/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
An Afar man, the people who live in the Danakil region, leads a line of camels along the salt plains. carl court/getty images
"If you stay outside for too long you start to burn. At times you have to put a mask on and avoid breathing in the toxic air," Gómez says. AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Temperatures average 34.5 degrees Celsius but have risen to over 50 degrees. Rocks are colored by minerals and algae. Carl Court/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images