Take one small step for man without leaving the planet.
If you’re one of those people who spent hours looking up at the night sky, wondering what it would be like to walk on the moon, you’re in luck.
Turns out, you don’t have to leave Earth to discover what it’s like to be on our little blue planet’s lunar sister. Kind of.
The island of Tenerife, located within Spain’s Canary Islands, is considered the most “moon-like” place on Earth. So moon-like, in fact, that the ESA tests out its HPDR rovers on the terrain at Teide National Park.
According to the ESA website, “for proposed missions to the polar regions of the Moon, lighting conditions will be more difficult,” which is why Tenerife is so particularly ideal for rover testing.
“Their high latitude means the Sun stays low on the horizon, casting long shadows, and deep craters stay mired in permanent shadow — potentially storing scientifically interesting water ice and other frozen volatiles,” it says on the website.
The terrain at the park is unlike any other. According to the ESA, “compared to rockier volcanic areas nearby where the rovers would not be able to traverse at all, this place is manoeuvrable while also Moon-like – with sand and small stones above rock – and big enough for us to make more than 13 km [about 8 miles] of traverses.”
Craters, ancient forests, volcanoes and rivers of petrified lava give Teide National Park an otherworldly quality. Plus, it’s home to Spain’s tallest mountain: Mount Teide.
If you’re ready to boldly go, visiting the park is quite a bit easier than hopping on a rocket ship. The park has two visitor centers, a bar and restaurant for anyone who needs to stop for refreshment, and the Las Cañadas del Teide Parador Hotel and Altavista Refuge is located nearby to turn in for the night.