NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a trio of faux travel posters for several "exoplanets" — planets outside our own solar system, orbiting different stars. The posters were produced under JPL's "PlanetQuest" banner, which they call "the search for another Earth." So far, PlanetQuest has discovered 4,988 exoplanets.
As Engadget notes, the posters are echoes of the Works Progress Administration's travel prints from the mid-1930s; they also probably remind Disney-goers of the travel posters on the walkways leading to the Star Tours ride. The images represent both something old and something entirely new on the frontiers of human exploration.
Click on the posters to expand them to full high-resolution size.
The poster for Kepler-16b draws attention to its two suns, as it orbits a pair of stars. NASA itself points out a science fiction planet that fits the same description: Luke Skywalker's Tatooine from "Star Wars." NASA also notes that, while it's depicted in the poster as being a more Earth-like, terrestrial planet, it may also be a Saturn-like gas giant. Also, chances for life there aren't great — the temperature is close to that of dry ice. Still, that two-sun sunset could actually be real.
HD 40307g is somewhere between being a big Earth and a mini-Neptune, according to NASA, coming in at almost eight times the Earth's mass and bringing with that far greater gravity. Scientists remain unsure if it's got a rocky surface, or if the surface is buried between thick layers of gas and ice — perhaps a bit like one of the worlds from "Interstellar."
This is the first planet the size of Earth discovered in a potentially "habitable zone" orbiting other star, according to NASA — which means its surface has the potential for liquid water. It's got a cooler, redder sun that Earth's (you know, like the one from Superman's home planet of Krypton). NASA also notes that if Kepler-186f has plant life, the red sun version of photosynthesis, with red-wavelength photos, could make their plant life an entirely different color than the green landscapes of Earth.