It’s officially the dreariest part of the winter, meaning most of us are sidestepping slush and spending lunch breaks looking at round-trip airfare to the dreamiest tropical destination we can get to (Tulum, anyone?). Now NASA is helping us take that vacation inspiration a little (well, a lot) further with the their new exoplanet posters from the institution’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Designed by NASA’s David Delgado and Dan Goods—who have a combined expertise in advertising, anthropology, and graphic design—and illustrated in-house by Joby Harris (an artist whose visual work for NASA was preceded by stints in the film industry, including sci-fi standards like 2002’s Solaris and Firefly), the posters feature gorgeous, color-saturated drawings of what an intergalactic getaway might look like.
The designers worked with experts from JPL to choose exoplanets, which are planets that orbit a star, making them a good bet for human habitability—an important element of any vacation. And according to Delgado, “there are a lot to choose from. The science information level that we were interested in boiled down to ‘what’s it like there.’ Some planets have two suns, some don’t spin, some rain molten glass, some have been cast out of of their system and are floating alone in space.”
The team finally decided on three destinations for the vintage-inspired posters—Kepler-186f (where an afternoon picnic could be spread out on red grass), Kepler-16b (likened to Star Wars’ Tatooine), and HD 40307g (a “super Earth” with eight times the gravity of our own planet). “I’ve always loved how vintage travel posters celebrated a place in such a simple and graphic way,” says Delgado. “One of the reasons we went down the path of using this style was that we knew that the posters had to help people understand that there are many kinds of planets out there, all with unique characteristics.” Goods adds, “The cross between nostalgia and dreaming of the future is a powerful force.”
Not only are they deserving of a place on your wall, the designers hope the imaginations the posters stoke are just the beginning. As Harris says, “It’s fascinating to know that there’s an undiscovered layer happening out there beyond our comprehension of what’s ‘normal.’ The posters serve as a subtle invitation for young people to be the ones in the future to somehow get humanity to these places. As if to say, ‘This exists. Now what?’”