Have you ever dreamed about vacationing on another planet? Or wondered what it would be like to explore “strange new worlds”?
If so, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created a fictional Exoplanet Travel Bureau that is sure to add fuel to your daydreams. A new exoplanet travel series, posted on the PlanetQuest Web site, features “travel posters” of several planets that the folks at NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program, who are leading the long-term search for habitable planets beyond our solar system, think you just might want to check out — Kepler-16b, Kepler-186f and HD40307g.
Where the Grass is Always Redder on the Other Side
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.
Experience the Gravity of a Super Earth
Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between “Super-Earth” and “mini-Neptune.”
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 times the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.
Relax on Kepler-16b – Where your shadow always has company
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.
Prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice.
But the discovery indicates that the movie’s iconic double-sunset is anything but science fiction.