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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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."