NASA Unveils Beautiful Retro Posters Of The Future Of Space Exploration

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

There’s nothing more exciting than the possibility of exploring worlds beyond Earth. Considering all the vastness of space, the possibilities for incredible discoveries and experiences seem endless.

Of course, we’re not quite there yet. But we have had some pretty incredible first steps, such as the moon landings that offered astronauts, and later the world, a new way to look at our home planet.

And as amazing as those experiences were, there’s so much more that we can’t even imagine!

Well, some people can imagine. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recently released a series of posters “advertising” travel to worlds beyond our own.

Done in a bright, graphic retro style, they look like classic postcards. Only instead of showing off the wonders of our world, they show the wonders everywhere else!

The posters, which are available for download and printout, feature planets in our solar system, as well as moons, exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and more, and were inspired by vintage travel posters.

And although they’re lovely, NASA hopes that they serve more as decoration. To the scientists at NASA, they represent possibility and a future where humans can explore the stars the way we explore Earth, and they hope they’ll inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers.

[H/T: My Modern Met]

The “Grand Tour” of the cosmos depicted here is a reference to the Voyager missions, which sent unmanned crafts out into space in the 1970s. In the future, humans may be able to do a “tour” like this, hitting up Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond.

Venus’ roiling, toxic atmosphere inspired this floating observatory, something that humans would need if they would ever go to the second planet.

This poster imagines a future where humans have colonized Mars, and pays homage to the researchers of the past who made the first steps toward bringing humans to the red planet.

The “historic sites” include our beloved rovers as well as imagined future milestones.

Ceres is a dwarf planet, and the largest object in the asteroid belt. Here, it’s imagined as the last outpost before the vast gulf of space that separates Jupiter from the inner planets.

Jupiter, the largest planet, has massive auroras around its poles that are each larger than Earth, and thousands of times more powerful. Talk about an incredible tourist attraction!

Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, is thought to be one huge liquid ocean under a considerable amount of ice. As such, it’s considered a candidate for extraterrestrial life. This poster imagines the thrill of seeing the mysterious creatures that may lurk beneath.

The moons of Saturn might be a hot destination, too. Like Europa, Enceladus is thought to have a global ocean. Here, tourists are watching it shoot massive ice jets from its surface, which help form one of Saturn’s rings! Now that would be an exciting trip.

Another of Saturn’s moons, Titan, also has lakes and rivers, but instead of water, they’re made of liquid methane. And here, water might spew from volcanoes. Setting sail on liquid methane would certainly be an adventure.

And JPL didn’t stop at our own solar system, either. This poster imagines Kepler-186f as an alternative to traditional leaf-peeping. Because of the difference of lightwaves in this exoplanet’s star, plants would take on a very different palette than Earth’s green.

Kepler-16b, meanwhile, orbits a pair of stars, so you’d see two suns in the sky from here. While it’s not the most hospitable, hardier adventurers might seek it out as an extra-romantic sunset spot.

Some planets bear a striking resemblance to Earth — but on different scales. HD 40307g is twice the size of Earth, but may have similar features. Perhaps in the future, we’ll consider this our “home away from home.”

But not all planets orbit a star. So-called “rogue planets” like PSO J318.5-22 wander through space in near-total darkness, glowing faintly with their own internal heat. But instead of a gloomy place, JPL imagines it as a never-ending party planet!

And of course, NASA gives some love to our home, Earth, too. Besides exploring space, JPL also studies Earth so that it can remain sustainable for generations to come, so even if we’re off exploring the stars, we’ll still have a place to come home to.

You can download and print your own poster-sized version of any one of these on the JPL website. And don’t forget to SHARE these great posters with all the explorers and adventurers in your life!