It might be hard to imagine a future where distant exoplanets are viable vacation options, but these exoplanet travel posters from NASA give a glimpse of what an interplanetary life might be like. Or at least what you might see on a trip to The Exoplanet Travel Bureau.
The posters depict three vastly different exoplanets:
First up is Kepler-186f, Earth’s distant cousin. This was the first Earth-size planet discovered in the so-called Goldilocks zone around its parent star — meaning liquid water could exist on its surface making it the first significant step in the quest to find another Earth. Kepler-186f orbits its star, which is cooler and redder than our Sun, once every 130 Earth days. And it’s a dim world. The planet gets about one-third the energy from its star as we get from the Sun, meaning that high noon on Kepler-186f is only about as bright as our sky an hour before sunset. Any plant life on Kepler-186f might be heavily influenced by its star’s red-wavelength photons, meaning the grass wouldn’t be greener, it could be redder.
Up next is HD 40307g, a planet at least seven times as massive as the Earth, putting it right on the line between being a super Earth and a mini Neptune. HD 40307g orbits its host star once every 197.8 Earth days, and lucky for future travelers, likely rotates around its own axis as well meaning there’s a day and a night, and a more temperate environment for potential life. Scientists don’t know much else about this planet, like whether there’s a rocky surface beneath the superficial layer of gas and ice. But being so much more massive than the Earth guarantees a much stronger gravitational pull.
Last is Kepler-16b, the planet most like Like Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. The planet isn’t actually terrestrial, though it’s depicted as such for the sake of a travel poster. It’s actually closer in size to Saturn, though 50 percent denser than our own ringed planet suggesting that it is rich in heavy elements. Still, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t float among the gas clouds and watch a dual sunset.
The posters are pretty phenomenal, and you can download the hi res versions from JPL’s site here.