Have a tour of exoplanets thanks to NASA’s new multimedia experiences

Enjoy the interactive experience of being on exoplanets such as 55 Cancri e, Kepler-16b, TRAPPIST-1e and more


This Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster illustration shows futuristic explorers gliding in a protective bubble over the red-hot landscape of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Explore the plethora of planets outside our Solar System with new multimedia platforms from NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). In addition to a new Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster celebrating a molten world called 55 Cancri e, space fans can enjoy a 360-degree visualisation of the surface of the same planet, a multimedia journey into the life and death of planetary systems, and a major update to the popular Eyes on Exoplanets app.

Designed in the style of vintage travel posters, ExEP’s popular Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster series imagines what it might be like to visit known planets outside our Solar System, or exoplanets. Focusing on 55 Cancri e, a planet that may be covered in a lava ocean, the newest poster shows futuristic explorers gliding over the red-hot landscape in a protective bubble.

55 Cancri e is also now part of the Exoplanet Travel Bureau’s 360-degree visualisation tool, which enables you to take a virtual tour of what the planet’s surface might look like, based on the limited data available (no photos of the planet exist). Seen as a massive fiery orb on the horizon, the planet’s star is 65 times closer to 55 Cancri e than the Sun is to Earth. On the planet’s cooler nightside, silicate vapour in the atmosphere may condense into sparkling clouds that reflect the lava below.

All of the 360-degree visualisations are viewable on desktop computers, mobile devices and through virtual reality headsets that work with smartphones.

This artist’s illustration of a planet in the TRAPPIST-1 system can be found in NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets 2.0. The web-based program lets users virtually fly through the galaxy and visit any of the nearly 4,000 known exoplanets, all visualised in 3D. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

How did we get here? How do stars and planets come into being, and what fate awaits planets after their stars die? The interactive web feature “Life and Death of a Planetary System” brings readers on an in-depth journey through the formation, evolution and eventual demise of a Solar System. This multi-chapter story offers insight into how the planet we call home formed and what will happen to it when the Sun dies.

Explore thousands of new worlds, both strange and strangely familiar, with NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets 2.0. Users can fly through the galaxy and virtually visit any of the nearly 4,000 known exoplanets, all visualised in 3D. Interstellar ports of call include the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven Earth-sized planets, the potentially molten-lava-covered 55 Cancri e, the egg-shaped WASP-12b and Kepler-16b, the first world discovered orbiting two stars.

Among other features, the searchable Eyes on Exoplanets 2.0 lets users compare an exoplanet’s size to that of Earth or Jupiter; determine how long it would take to travel to a given planet by car, jet or light-speed starship; and interact with virtual models of NASA space telescopes, such as Hubble, Spitzer, Kepler and the newly launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

Eyes on Exoplanets 2.0 is powered by data from NASA’s Exoplanet Archive, the official database used by scientists researching exoplanets. Available for use on desktop computers as well as most smartphones and tablets, this next-generation, browser-based version of the popular app requires no software download.

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