Well, it is now official: on your next vacation, you can definitely say that you will visit Mars. How? By coming to Santorini, of course!

The spectacular and unique volcanic landscape of Santorini is not only one of the top sights of the famous Greek island; it also hosts areas similar to those found on the Red Planet! This has been discovered by a group of European and American scientists after analyzing about twenty samples of rocks collected from the bay of Balos, located at the southern part of the island.

The idea for such a research started with Mr. Ioannis Baziotis, Assistant Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology at the Agricultural University of Athens and co-author of the recently published study. As he says, “at the Balos Cove, we have discovered basalts such as those identified by the rovers on Mars and with properties similar to those of certain meteorites from the red planet and those of terrestrial rocks classified as Martian analogues.”

More specifically, the scientists confirm that this basaltic material is equivalent to that located by the Spirit and Curiosity rovers in the Gusev and Gale craters of the Mars, and that its chemical and mineralogical composition resembles that of genuinely Martian and similar Martian samples included in the International Space Analogue Rockstore (ISAR), a collection of terrestrial rocks used to test and calibrate instruments that will fly on space missions.

Another author of the study, Anezina Solomonidou, researcher at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) run by the European Space Agency (ESA), adds near Madrid.In addition, the scientists say that “the island is easily accessible and provides excellent logistical support for sampling, field studies, calibration of test instruments and other activities related to the current and future exploration of Mars.”

Thus, apart from being one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the whole world, Santorini has also become an excellent destination for comparative planet studies, a field which, according to the scientists, “plays an important role, both in characterizing geologically distant exotic worlds, such as planets and moons, and in better understanding our own planet.”

So come and experience a voyage on Mars, right here, right now, in the most wondrous island in the whole world!