Tag Archives: planet

Book now with the Exoplanet Travel Bureau

(You may have a wait while the technology for your flight is developed.)

A lot of my first reading as a child was astronomy books and magazines. When I was little, my brother told me there was a black hole under his bed (to keep me from snooping—nerd children fight dirty), and after that, I had to know more about the enigmatic and alarming properties of the universe.

One of the things I remember was the hunt for the first exoplanet, that is, the first confirmed planet outside of the solar system. Scientists were quite sure they should exist (why wouldn’t they?), but the equipment and techniques thus far hadn’t shown them. I remember reading about some of the first exoplanets in the hazy early 90s. They were massive, close to their stars, and had outrageous properties that inspired wild imaginings.

Now confirmed exoplanets number in the thousands. And poking around the internet on an unrelated chore the other night, I found this gem: the Exoplanet Travel Bureau. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (the extremely prestigious and awesome JPL) made travel posters for four exoplanets in the style of retro travel posters. Each of them features characteristics of their planet. I promptly printed out three and hung them in my guest room. I’m still ecstatic about them; these are the kinds of visions and dreams I had so long ago as a kid, and that I love to chase in my own art. These are awesome, and I love them, and you can download them at full size. Tell all your friends, and print your own! Here they are!

Click on the image for more image sizes. Images by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click on the image for more image sizes. Images by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click on the image for more image sizes. Images by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click on the image for more image sizes. Images by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Writing prompt: unexplored wilderness

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Unexplored wilderness”

The sweat dribbled down Aaron’s back. The containment suit was unbearable and yet necessary. The lush jungle spread before him. He was the first human ever to set foot in this place. Bugs swirled around his covered face, perhaps sensing his warmth, even if they could not reach it. They gleamed in gold and emerald and sapphire. One appeared, only to be chased off by another. Their reflections filled the air, off into the distance.

As on Earth, the jungle floor was mostly covered with debris, only a small trickle of light permeating this far. Here and there lay a fallen log, covered with new fledgling trees. The flora was full of surprising colors, including whole sections of white, fern-like plants. Perhaps they functioned on a non-chlorophyll system. Somebody would look into it later. Now, he was the first visitor after the rovers. He stepped slowly through the brush, carefully placing his feet.

In the distance, he saw an animal. His first animal. Now he realized that he heard no birds or rodents. He didn’t know if it was for a lack of them, or because he had spooked them. This animal stood on its hind legs, with small forelegs, a little like a kangaroo. Unlike a kangaroo, it was pink, with an enormous prehensile tail. He hastened to see it. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it. He stepped forward.

Riiiip. He looked down. He had torn his containment suit. One of the sapphire insects buzzed past.