After years of hunting with NASA's Kepler spacecraft, researchers announced last week they'd discovered the most Earth-like other worlds yet. Of course, we have no way of getting to any of these other worlds with the current technology -- though the Johnson Space Center work on a Star Trek-esque warp drive and the first test of Orion last month are both good signs for some future of space exploration -- but in the meantime NASA keeps around the kinds of artists who can imagine making those trips, and they've done so in grand style, creating a set of the best posters ever. (If you think we're exagerating, see above awesome poster.)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has come out with three travel posters for three existing exoplanets drawn in the style of 1930s WPA "See America" posters. The posters were created on behalf of the "Exoplanet Travel Bureau" by NASA artists who are supposed to be doing exactly this sort of thing -- finding ways to capture the excitement of space exploration so that people like all of us get all giddy about getting to infinity and beyond, as Buzz Lightyear would say. (Yeah, it's sappy but these posters are so cool it knocked the snark right out of us).
The posters were originally designed specifically for the JPL, but they got a huge response when they were publicly released a few days ago, Joby Harris, a designer on the project at JPL, told Time. "We were a little surprised by it." Since this is NASA after all, land of science, details and all things space, the artists worked with scientists to figure out which planets to choose and what these planets might actually be like. The results are spectacular.
The poster for Kepler 186f, one of the first rocky planets found that might actually be the right temperature to have water on the planet, features the slogan "the grass is always redder on the other side." The poster shows a red planets that theoretically could exist if it used the infrared light from the planet's star.
The poster for for HD40307g asks would-be tourists to "experience the gravity of a super Earth." The planet is somewhere between the size of our planet and Neptune and scientists aren't sure if the planet surface is rocky or covered by ice and thick layers of gas. The one thing they know for sure is that since it's eight times the size of Earth, the gravity is crazy strong.
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And then there's the gorgeous poster for Kepler-16b, which features two suns and is the closest we've gotten to that little old Star Wars-universe planet known as Tatooine. The planet has the temperature of dry ice, so life on Kepler-16b is highly unlikely. But that's just a nit-picky detail because the poster is awesome. Even better, you can download them from NASA for free and print out exoplanet posters of your very own.