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15 photos that prove Earth is far stranger than any science fiction.

Did you know that when scientists wanted to test the Mars rover, they went to Chile? It turns out there are a lot of places on Earth that are totally out of this world.

15 photos that prove Earth is far stranger than any science fiction.
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Earth Day

1. The Atacama Desert in South America is so dry, NASA has used it to test Mars rovers.

It even has a reddish surface. Image from ESO/Wikimedia Commons.


2. The Red Beach of Panjin in China looks like it's covered in the red weed that gave Mars its red color in H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds."

Image from Kashif Pathan/Flickr..

3. Jakku? Tatooine? Nope, this isn't a planet from "Star Wars." It's an ancient Chinese watchtower along the Silk Road.

Image from The Real Bear/Wikimedia Commons.

4. These Waitomo glowworm caves in New Zealand look like they could be a wormhole to another dimension.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? Image from 2il org/Flickr.

5. And the Naica Mine in Mexico looks like a wormhole to another dimension made entirely out of GIANT DIAMONDS.

There is a person at the bottom of this picture for scale, and that scale is bonkers.

Yes, that's a person at the bottom. Image from Alexander Van Driessche/Wikimedia Commons.

6. These ice-blue pools in Pamukkale, Turkey, look more like the icy surface of Hoth from "Star Wars" or Delta Vega from "Star Trek."

Image from Pvasiliadis/Wikimedia Commons.

7. Speaking of ice blue, I'm pretty sure caves aren't supposed to come in this color on Earth. Get with the program, Marble Caves of Chile Chico in Patagonia!

Marble Caves of Chile Chico, Patagonia. Image from Javier Vieras/Flickr.

8. Alaska, what did I just say?

Ice caves under Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska. Image from Andrew E. Russell/Flickr.

9. Don't think I don't see you too, Lake Retba in Senegal! I know your pinkish hue comes from salt production, but that's no excuse for this weirdness!

Image from iStock.

10. The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is normally a stark, white salt flat, but when it rains, it looks like where you might end up if you entered a black hole.

The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Image from Chechevere/Wikimedia Commons.

11. Captain Kirk and a shimmering alien entity would look right at home having a conversation at Ethiopia's Dallol volcano, where sulfur and iron deposits create otherworldly colors.

Image from Hervé Sthioul/Wikimedia Commons.

12. The island of Socotra is a place where even plants look like aliens...

A forest on the island of Socotra. Image from Valerian Guillot/Flickr.

13. ...including this flower-haired land-slug!

(Also known as a bottle tree, but I like my name for it better).

Image from iStock.

14. Alien tentacles?! Nope, these are snow-covered trees in Riisitunturi National Park, Finland.

Image from Tero Laakso/Flickr.

15. Lastly, this might look like Mars, with the red sand and little space-house, but it's actually the Mars Society's training ground in Utah, right here in the U.S. of A.

The Mars Society's training ground in Utah. Image from Bandgirl807/Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes, all we need is a change in perspective to remind ourselves how weird and spectacular the Earth is.

Though we usually are surrounded by normal stuff, you don't have to go too far to see just how strange the Earth — and the planets and solar systems around us — can be.

Now get your solution of high-temperature water and caffeine, pet your favorite tame mammal companion goodbye, get in your metal vehicle powered by the remains of ancient plants, listen to pleasant and high-pitched air vibrations encoded by powerful electromagnetic waves, and get ready to orbit that giant glowing ball of plasma we call "sun."

It's a great day to be alive.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.