Exoplanet Junket

I’m on a vacation of sorts, so it’s no surprise that stories about travel tend to catch my eye. However, it is surprising if the story happens to be about something that NASA’s done.

This week NASA released a new project that they’ve dubbed the Exoplanet Travel Bureau. The core of the project consists of a set of interactive 360° images that show “imagined” surfaces of five exoplanets (TRAPPIST-1e, Kepler-16b, Kepler-186f, PSO J318.5-22 and HD 40307 g). Here’s a video and some articles about the experience.

This Brilliant Interactive From NASA Lets You Virtually Explore Planets Far, Far Away (Jacinta Bowler, Science Alert)
Visit Exotic Exoplanets with NASA Visualization Tool (Mike Wall, Space.com)
NASA’s New VR Demo Puts You on Distant Exoplanets (Ryan Whitwam, Extreme Tech)

NASA’s new experience includes a feature that let’s you download snazzy travel posters for each of the planets, and those posters have a backstory of their own. You see, this isn’t the first time that NASA has dabbled in publishing travel posters. Here’s a Buzz 60 story about three of the same posters in the new project.

Here’s a Slate article with some more background on the Work Projects Administration (WPA) See America poster series that inspired the style of NASA’s travel posters.
See America Through a Nostalgic Lens With These Neo-Vintage Travel Posters (Kristin Hohenadel, Slate)

The three exoplanet posters featured in the video are just a subset of fifteen posters that NASA released in 2016 as a series entitled Visions of the Future.

Here are some links about the posters and where you can still download them for yourself.
Exotic Cosmic Locales Available as Space Tourism Posters (NASA/JPL)
Space Tourism Posters (NASA)
Visions of the Future Posters (NASA/JPL)

NASA also published this special page about the inspiration for the posters.
About Visions of the Future Posters (NASA/JPL)

Of course, the timing of the release of the Exoplanet Travel Bureau is no coincidence — it’s neatly timed to coincide with last month’s launch of NASA’s planet hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Here’s a short one minute explanation from NASA Goddard about what TESS will be doing.

Here’s a longer video from the New York Times with a more extensive explanation of the history of exoplanet research and TESS .

If all of this has gotten your imagination in the mood to visit some more exoplanets beyond the five that NASA had in their tour, then here’s an awesome 360° Video from the University of Exeter Astrophysics Research Group that introduces six different exoplanets as well as explains just a bit more about the science behind it all.

You can find out a ton more about NASA’s work on exoplanet research here.
Exoplanet Exploration (NASA)
Eyes on Exoplanets (NASA)

Bon Voyage!

Find out more about planets and space in general…