Stretching more than 965 km in northern Chile, the Atacama Desert possesses a beautiful landscape that attracts many tourists from all over the world to visit. This land is different from other places by unique weather patterns and topography. Some areas of the desert receive a lot of rain, creating a diverse ecosystem. Considered as the Mars landscape on Earth, the driest desert in the world Atacama is a research topic that many scientists are interested in.
Even if it rains, it remains the driest desert:
Since weather stations were set up in Atacama, some here have never seen a single drop of rain. Researchers estimate that precipitation did not occur between 1570 and 1971. For several centuries, these areas did not have any type of water. Parts of the desert like Iquique and Arica receive rainfall of up to 3 mm per year.
Scientists found that soil found in the Atacama desert and on Mars have similarities. Therefore, this desert is a test site for equipment and robots to send to Mars by NASA (the US Aeronautics and Space Administration). It is also used to shoot many Hollywood movies related to space travel.
Deserts are known to experience extreme temperatures. This makes people unable to live in these lands and face many dangers when exploring. The highest temperature recorded in the Atacama desert is 40 degrees Celsius. The coldest temperature is 5 degrees Celsius, which is quite low for the desert environment.
The best place to see the night sky:
For star gazers, the Atacama Desert is one of the best places to see the night sky. Every year, it has more than 300 nights of clear sky. The desert is also home to one of the largest telescopes in the world. The altitude and large area create favorable conditions for stargazing.
You can see snow in the Atacama Desert on the high mountain peaks. The altitude keeps the temperature cold enough that the snow doesn’t melt. Snow will never be found on the valley floor of the desert because the climate is completely different.
The world’s oldest mummies of Chinchorro prehistoric people are found in the Atacama Desert. Science proves these mummies existed before the Egyptians for thousands of years. The oldest mummy dates to at least 7020 BC, about 4,000 years longer than in Egypt.
More sodium nitrate than anywhere:
Sodium nitrate is best known for its use as an explosive and fertilizer. This compound is abundant in the Atacama desert. The supply was so great that in the 1940s abandoned sodium nitrate mining towns were found throughout the desert’s high mineral content areas. It is the world’s largest source of natural sodium nitrate.