NASA virtual exoplanet tours bureau lets anyone ‘vacation’ in space

Brittany A. Roston - May 28, 2018, 4:00 pm CDT
NASA virtual exoplanet tours bureau lets anyone ‘vacation’ in space

NASA has introduced its new Exoplanet Travel Bureau, a new part of its Exoplanet Exploration website that enables anyone to “visit” an alien world. While it would be fun to visit one of these distant planets in person, NASA points out that such a mission is still “a distant dream.” Here as a substitution is virtual reality and NASA’s new interactive version of Kepler-186f.

NASA offers 360-degree “interactive visualizations” for various alien planets on its Exoplanet Exploration website, and the Kepler-186f offering is its latest addition. In it, visitors can look around within a world featuring tall mountains, a red sky, low sun, and multiple visible moons. Anyone can access the interactive world within a browser here.

Of note, the interactive world lets visitors view it both with and without an atmosphere. Researchers don’t know whether Kepler-186f has an atmosphere, at least one capable of sustaining life, but it’s fun to imagine what the landscape may look like. NASA’s virtual world also has water and plants as hypothetical landscape features to stoke the imagination.

Meanwhile, the Exoplanet Travel Bureau was created by the Exoplanet Exploration Program team. In it, users get access to new and previous exoplanet travel posters themed to look like retro travel ads. Visitors can explore the planet’s surface and learn more about it, as well as download the posters to use as wallpapers or create prints.


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