Star Wars fans the world over spent yesterday, May the 4th, trying to celebrate their favorite space opera films anyway they could. However, while most of us are stuck honoring the galaxy far, far away from the confines of our terrestrial home, the folks at NASA have an entire universe at their disposal to help them show their love and admiration for the franchise.
The space agency spent “Star Wars Day” tweeting out planets that call to mind some of the most famous from the films, as well as some cool technology that wouldn’t feel out of place in the Skywalker home.
So if you were looking for a small place to hide your rebel base after you blew up the evil empire’s giant planet-destroying death machine, you might head to OGLE-2005-BLG-390, a “a potentially rocky, icy body that may be the smallest planet yet found orbiting a star outside our solar system,” nicknamed Hoth, for the frozen planet from The Empire Strikes Back.
Then again, you might not have actually destroyed the Death Star in the first place (or for the last time), you might have just destroyed a moon that resembles it, like Saturn’s moon Mimas, with its giant crater that makes it look like the Empire’s ultimate weapon.
If you don’t like cold and rocky places though, or you need to have an epic battle with your former student-turned-evil Sith Lord, you can head to the molten planet CoRoT-7B, which has “a density similar to Earth’s,” and is reminiscent of Mustafar, where Obi-Wan and Anakin fought for the fate of the galaxy in Revenge of the Sith.
After all that heat there’s nothing like a nice dip to cool off, so try out Kepler-22B, “the first planet that NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star’s habitable zone.” It just so happens to be a lot like Attack of the Clones‘ water-covered planet Kamino, where Jango Fett was turned into a massive army.
Maybe cross-country skiing, sunbathing, or swimming aren’t your favorite vacation activities though, and you prefer something a little more cosmopolitan. Well Kepler-452B, “Earth’s bigger, older cousin,” is a lot like Coruscant, the former headquarters of the Republic and home of the Jedi Temple from the prequels.
Then again, is there anything that screams Star Wars more than the image of Luke looking out at the twin sunsets of Tatooine? Well Kepler-16B just so happens to orbit two suns of its own, and in fact was “the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet — a planet orbiting two stars” to be found.
They might not be working on getting us lightsabers (unfortunately), but that doesn’t mean NASA isn’t working towards trying to make our own planet a better place in other, much safer ways.
It might be tough to find droids as adorable as BB-8, but we do have some spherical mechanical assistants working with our astronauts to make their jobs a little easier up in the International Space Station.
I can’t fully explain why, but there is something comforting in knowing that the people responsible for continuing mankind’s journey into the cosmos are just as inspired by the fictional world of Star Wars we are.
Now I’m just going to need them to work on getting me a real lightsaber.
What other real place or technology reminds you of Star Wars? Which one of these real planets would you like to visit the most? May the 4th be with you always, and may you share your thoughts with us in the comments below.