NASA has become its own travel agency, releasing three tourist ads for exoplanets found with the Kepler telescope. Humanity still lacks the technology to travel to these distant worlds, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. These three retro-style, exoplanet travel posters might help us understand what it might be like on these distant alien worlds.
For those of you who are detail oriented, here is the exact definition of an exoplanet from our friends at Brighthub.com.
“The exact definition of an exoplanet is just a planet, any planet, that is orbiting a star other than our own Sun, and is therefore not in our Solar System. That’s it. Nothing fancy about it.”
Each poster highlights the subtle differences between the Kepler exoplanets and Earth. For example, Kepler 16b, featured above, is like Star Wars’ Tatooine in that the planet orbits around two suns. Of course, researchers admit that this world may actually be a gas giant (meaning that future tourists will not be able to stand on the surface as depicted above).
Likewise, life probably does not exist on this exoplanet. The temperature is somewhere close to that of dry ice.
If those downsides are too much for the future tourist, there are plenty more choices.
The next on the list is “Super Earth” HD 40307g. With twice the volume of Earth, the gravity on this world is enough to make anyone self-conscious. Still, at such a long distance, the Kepler space telescope can’t determine if this world has a simple rocky surface or one covered by thick layers of gas and ice.
Kepler 186f is special in that it’s the same. 186f is the first Earth-sized exoplanet found in a star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water could exist. There is a catch though. The planet’s star is much weaker and redder than our sun. If life is growing there, the process by which plant-like life might try photosynthesis would be different. Perhaps replacing Earth’s traditional green colors with a stark red hue.
Maybe not even Kepler 186f is exactly what the tourist of tomorrow is looking for. That’s alright. The telescope is continuing to find exoplanets all the time.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Kepler telescope suffered a critical malfunction in 2013, risking the entire mission. Scientists managed a work-around, which now allows the telescope to find exoplanets at an amazing pace. According to PlantQuest, there are currently 1,789 confirmed exoplanets. Another 3,199 candidates are waiting for approval.
As Doug Caldwell, SETI Institute Kepler scientist, explained in a NASA press release, each new world brings us one step closer to understanding how unique Earth truly is.
“With each new discovery of these small, possibly rocky worlds, our confidence strengthens in the determination of the true frequency of planets like Earth. The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.”
The complete Kepler travel poster series can be found on the NASA’s Planet Quest page here.
[Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]