NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab just released a new artwork series imagining a fantastic future where exotic locations in outer space have become popular travel destinations. The breathtaking illustrations commemorate the auroras of Jupiter, the mysterious waters of Titan, and the double suns of the newly-discovered planet Kepler-16b, “Where your shadow always has company.”
Mimicking retro travel posters, NASA describes Earth as “your oasis in space. Where the air is free, and the breathing is easy.”
And there’s even a poster for Ceres, the 587 mile-wide dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. “Last chance for water until Jupiter…”
NASA is encouraging visitors to print out the 14 illustrations as free posters — and to keep dreaming about the world we want to live in. “As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.” The JPL store is also selling postcards of the posters, so you can greet your friends from three futuristic destinations — Kepler-16b, Kepler-186f, and “super earth” HD 40307g.
The posters and postcards were created by two brothers who started a design agency in Seattle named Invisible Creatures. “In the beginning … there was passion, manifested only as doodles in the margins of school textbooks,” their origin story reads.
Interestingly, their grandfather spent more than 25 years as an illustrator for NASA, and they acknowledge on their blog that “This project was obviously a special one.” In their spare time, their creativity also bubbles over into a metal band called Demon Hunter, which they say has hundreds of thousands of records. But their NASA posters have become very popular.
Invisible Creatures had been selling prints (and variants) through its website, but now two of its offerings have already sold out. “The Grand Tour” print commemorated how NASA’s Voyager spacecraft were able to gather data from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune by exploiting each planet’s gravity during a rare alignment that happens only once every 175 years. Also sold out is a special set of three autographed prints, which had also included posters about Mars and Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn.
But the best way to enjoy the magic is probably by browsing through the images displayed on NASA’s site. My favorite imagines an observatory nestled in the pink clouds of Venus. (“Voted best place in the solar system to watch the Mercury transit.”)
It’s hard not to see these posters as a NASA attempt to build strong popular support for all the new space programs yet to come. Or as NASA writes on their web page, “Imagination is our window into the future.”