NASA's retrofuturistic artwork reveals 1970s vision of life in space

In the 1970s, the NASA Ames Research Center commissioned artwork envisioning what life in space may look like. The results were retrofuturistic paintings that feature huge living quarters and agricultural centers in space, entire cities in space stations, artificial sunlight and rivers, and more.

The Ames Research Center worked with Stanford University in the 1970s on a trio of space colony studies. Artists created visual renderings of the space colony concepts; the paintings are very dated, yet provide a fascinating look at what humanity imaged life in space may be like in the distant future.

In a recent post highlighting the artwork, NASA explained, "Artistic endeavors like these help form connections between science and the public, acting as valuable tools in illustrating NASA's explorations and discoveries." The space agency notes that it continues to work with artists on creating renders and concepts of new technology and celestial destinations.

Perhaps the most interesting artwork to come from NASA's Art Program is its concept 'travel' posters for various exoplanets, ones crafted to look like retro travel posters. Each piece of art — which can be downloaded and printed by the public — features a fun look at the anticipated landscape on each planet.

As for the classic retrofuturistic pieces, NASA has uploaded 16 of them to its Flickr account. Viewers are given a look at a space civilization that is as familiar as it is foreign — a careful eye will note fun details like colony residents casually dining on an outdoor patio, for example.