Tourism Posters for Other Planets
There's a great big universe out there, and NASA is playfully inviting you to explore it. Their fictional (for now) Exoplanet Travel Bureau has released these three colorful tourism posters via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website.
Each depicts an Earth-like planet recently discovered by Kepler, a space observatory that has helped discover over 1,000 exoplanets since being launched by NASA in 2009. As a Gizmodo commenter points out, these mock advertisements are done in the same modernist European style as many of the WPA Federal Art Project's post-depression works, like the See America campaign.
Kepler-186f is part of a star system in the constellation Cygnus. It's about 500 light-years away, and was the first earth-sized planet discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope in a "habitable zone" (the sweet spot in relation to a star in which a planet could feature liquid water on its surface). While encouraging, it's unknown whether or not Kepler-186f could support humans. It orbits a small star and receives much less energy from it than Earth does from our sun. "Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," says research scientist Thomas Barclay.
This planet, about 43 light years away from us, is pretty big. It's eight times the size of Earth and, as the promotional copy says in the above poster, "scientists aren't sure if it has a rocky surface or one that's buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice." Might want to make sure before you pack for your vacation.
According to NASA, Kepler-16b is "cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life," but it orbits two stars, making it intriguing enough to warrant a visit. Classic tourist trap.