In 2009, NASA launched the Kepler mission, a space telescope that has just recently discovered its 1000th exoplanet. That’s quite an accomplishment in such a short amount of time, and NASA is celebrating the achievement in a very cool way.
While our current technology doesn’t give us much of an opportunity to actually visit any of these alien worlds, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created a series of pretty stunning “travel” posters that imagines what it would be like if we could.
Titled the “Exoplanet Travel Bureau,” the images are simultaneously really cool, and also insanely depressing. I guess it’s time to watch Wanderers again and pretend like it’s totally okay that I’m never going to space. *Weeps quietly*
Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between “Super-Earth” and “mini-Neptune” and scientists aren’t sure if it has a rocky surface or one that’s buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. One thing is certain though: at eight time the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.
Kepler-186f is the first Earth-size planet discovered in the potentially ‘habitable zone’ around another star, where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. Its star is much cooler and redder than our Sun. If plant life does exist on a planet like Kepler-186f, its photosynthesis could have been influenced by the star’s red-wavelength photons, making for a color palette that’s very different than the greens on Earth. This discovery was made by Kepler, NASA’s planet hunting telescope.
Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn.