NASA designers create stellar tourist posters

Not planning a trip to the newly discovered exoplanet Kepler 186f? Perhaps these posters might persuade you. . .

Alongside astronauts, engineers and geeks, NASA also employs a good number of great graphic designers. Their mission is to inspire the public with the delights of space exploration.

To this end, designers at the the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California have created posters purporting to be tourism adverts for three genuine exoplanets. These are planets discovered by Kepler, the planet-hunting space observatory, which has to date discovered 1000 exoplanets. What a gift of a brief for any graphic designer. The JPL has its roots in the 1930s, so the three posters are in keeping with that era.


Kepler-16b tourist poster - JPL, NASA
Kepler-16b tourist poster - JPL, NASA

The three new planets - Kepler 186f, Kepler 16b and HD 40307g - are most likely to support life as they are orbit stars in what’s referred to as the circumstellar habitable zone - colloquially known as the Goldilocks zone - the region around a star within which planetary-mass objects with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surfaces.

Designer David Delgado, explains that “There was a lot of back-and-forth with the scientists, figuring out which exoplanets to choose," followed by plenty of "noodling on what it would actually be like to visit them.”


Kepler 186f tourist poster - JPL, NASA
Kepler 186f tourist poster - JPL, NASA

The image of each planet has been based on information beamed back to earth by Kepler. Kepler 186f orbits a small red star. “Maybe the colour of vegetation would be different there,” says Delgado, so it’s depicted with red rather than green grass. “Where the grass is always redder on the other side!” reads the poster’s strapline.

Kepler 16b orbits twin suns and boasts the line: “The Land Of Two Suns,” adding: “Where your shadow always has company!” Meanwhile HC 40307g is “twice as big in volume as the Earth [that] straddles the line between 'Super-Earth' and 'mini-Neptune'”, according to its poster, so possibly a good spot for skydivers.


HD-40307g tourist poster - JPL, NASA
HD-40307g tourist poster - JPL, NASA

It looks like the team had as much fun with the slogans as they did with the imagery. And they're inviting the public to print the works from JPL’s Planet Quest website. Such has been their popularity that they're working on three more. Until then you can see a number of very cool poster designs among the many classic pieces of graphic design spanning the last 500 years in the book-in-a-box The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design.  


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