10 Places on Earth That Look Completely Alien

Etosha Pan, Namibia
The Etosha Pan is the largest salt pan in Africa and is even visible from space. Romulo Rejon/Flckr/Getty Images

When scientists studied images shot by the Cassini space probe of Ontario Lacus, a massive lake on Saturn's moon Titan, they discovered that it was a depression that drains and refills from below, at low ebb exposing liquid areas ringed by materials such as saturated sand and mudflats. If you get past the fact that it is filled with liquid hydrocarbons, Ontario Lacus bears an eerie resemblance to a place back on Earth — Namibia's Etosha Salt Pan [source: NASA].

This dried lake bed fills with a shallow layer of fluid from groundwater during the rainy season; the fluid evaporates during the dry season, leaving sediment marks. Etosha, whose name means "great white place" in the language of the Ovambo people, is a 1,800 square-mile (4,800 square-kilometer)expanse of shimmering, dry, baked clay that looks suitably otherworldly [source: Etosha National Park].