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NASA Exoplanet Travel Bureau Offers Tours of Six Planets

Not so long humanity started looking for Earth-like planets in the far reaches of space. To date, there are a few thousand exoplanets discovered by various means, all so far out it's impossible to visit physically.
Trappist-1e exoplanet visit on NASA website 1 photo
NASA, the world’s leading space agency, has a fix for that: the Exoplanet Travel Bureau. Not actually a bureau, and not actually offering trips, but the next best thing to both, given our current state of technical proficiency.

The thing with exoplanets is that we can only detect them, but we have no means of actually seeing them as say astronauts see the Earth from space. But, using an artist's impression based on the limited data that is available, NASA was capable of rendering in 360-degree surface visualization six of the planets it discovered over the years with the help of the Kepler telescope.

The six planets are Trappist-1e, Kepler-16b, Kepler-186f, PSO J318.5-22, HD 40307g and 51 Pegasi B, the first exoplanet to be discovered orbiting a main-sequence star. Trappist-1e is the latest addition to the roster of planets available for exploration through NASA’s tool.

“We have limited knowledge about what these distant worlds are really like, but these surface visualizations allow us to imagine some of the possibilities," said Martin Still, program scientist at NASA’s new planet-hunting project.

"Current and future NASA missions, including TESS and the James Webb Space Telescope, will find the nearest exoplanets to our solar system and characterize their atmospheres, bridging the gap between speculation and what's really out there."

All the planets can be viewed – some degree of interaction is also permitted – on both desktop and mobile devices, at the following link. Mock posters from the make-believe travel agency are also available for download.

The website was created by NASA with the help of the Exoplanet Exploration Program communications team and program chief scientists.


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