NASA’s new ‘travel bureau’ lets you tour alien worlds
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If you’d like to visit somewhere exotic this summer but hate the hassle of planning itineraries and making reservations, you’re in luck. NASA has launched a new “Exoplanet Travel Bureau” website that takes you on a virtual tour of alien worlds from the comfort of your own home.
The site offers lush, 360-degree visualizations of six planets outside our solar system, including TRAPPIST-1d, a rocky planet 40 light-years away “where your shadow always has company” because the planet orbits two stars. You can also planet-hop to Kepler-186f, an Earth-sized planet about 500 light-years away, where NASA says “the grass is always redder” because its surface favors reddish hues.
The Exoplanet Travel Bureau also offers fun, stylish posters of all six destinations. The poster for PSO J318.5-22 describes the exoplanet as a place “where the nightlife never ends” because it doesn’t orbit a star but floats freely in space instead.
On each planet, you can stand on the surface and gaze around at the landscape or up at the sky — and even see what happens if you add or remove an atmosphere. The visualizations are annotated to make sure you understand exactly what you’re looking at.
Many of the destinations featured on the website were discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which has identified more than 2,300 confirmed exoplanets since its 2009 launch.