This sure looks like a futuristic settlement on the Red Planet, as Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano pondered on Twitter yesterday when he shared this image taken from the International Space Station, saying, “Maybe one day our settlements on Mars will look like this.”
But what is this facility — which must be huge and looks to be out in the middle of absolutely nowhere? A secret new branch at Area 51? A mock-up of a base from the “Legion of Space” sci-fi books?
It’s actually one of the world’s largest lithium salt production facilities, located in the “lithium triangle” of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, high in the Atacama desert in Chile. Below is an aerial view:
An aerial view of the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat, the largest lithium deposit currently in production, in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, on Jan. 10, 2013. Credit: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters.
You can read a great article here (with more great images) about the lithium mining operations, enabling all your electronic gizmos to be powered.
Source: Universe Today, story by Nancy Atkinson