Fancy a trip to Mars? These NASA posters might tempt you


The imaginative brains behind NASA's popular space tourism posters have issued a whole new set – and best of all, they're free to download. Cosmos art director Robyn Adderly takes us through the creative process.


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A closer look at the artwork for the recently released 'Grand Tour' poster from NASA
NASA / JPL-Caltech

Imagine travelling to a new “out of this world” destination for the first time, taking in the views that others in the past have only dreamt about. That’s just what the The Studio at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is tempting us with, as they release their latest set of striking space tourism posters.

There is just one catch – humankind has never visited the destinations advertised.

The three newly released posters, part of NASA’s Visions of the Future series, entice us on intriguing voyages to visit holiday destinations such as the breathtaking geysers of Enceladus, the historic sites of Mars and the main attraction, a once-in-a-lifetime getaway – a gravity-assisted grand tour that takes in the sites of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The discovery of Enceladus' icy jets and their role in creating Saturn's E-ring is one of the top findings of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Further Cassini mission discoveries revealed strong evidence of a global ocean and the first signs of potential hydrothermal activity beyond Earth – making this tiny Saturnian moon one of the leading locations in the search for possible life beyond Earth. – NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA's Mars Exploration Program seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be a habitable world. Mission like Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, among many others, have provided important information in understanding of the habitability of Mars. This poster imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of Mars and takes a nostalgic look back at the great-imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as “historic sites.” – NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA's Voyager mission took advantage of a once-every-175-year alignment of the outer planets for a grand tour of the solar system. The twin spacecraft revealed details about Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – using each planet's gravity to send them on to the next destination. Voyager set the stage for such ambitious orbiter missions as Galileo to Jupiter and Cassini to Saturn. Today both Voyager spacecraft continue to return valuable science from the far reaches of our solar system. – NASA / JPL-Caltech

The posters give us a glimpse of what a holiday in space might look like. And although we can’t book and pack our bags to go today, these trips have been inspired by real-world space exploration accomplishments.

NASA’s Voyager mission, for instance, has already taken the “grand tour” of the outer planets of the Solar System, taking advantage of a once-every-175-year alignment and using each planet’s gravity to fling it on to the next destination.

The brains behind the posters – The Studio – is a design and strategy team that formed 13 years ago and works with JPL scientists and engineers to visualise and depict complex science and technology. They also help brainstorm missions and share the work of NASA/JPL with the public.

Joby Harris, a visual strategist at the studio, asked siblings Don and Ryan Clark at the Seattle-based design studio Invisible Creatures to create the latest set of posters. It was a special project for the pair who has a long family history with space – their grandfather, Al Paulsen, designed and illustrated imagery for NASA for 30 years.

The posters Invisible Creatures designed are reminiscent of the travel advertising art of the early 20th century. The strong colours and lines and modernist typography reflect the ingenuity of 1920s and 30s graphic design.

Also included in the set of 14 posters are last year’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau series. The art deco posters were designed and illustrated by The studio at JPL’s in-house team of visual strategists.

They guessed the exoplanets’ appearance using information from the Kepler mission.

And when the Exoplanet poster series launched last year, the traffic to download them was so great it crashed the site.

Like Luke Skywalker's planet "Tatooine" in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn. Prospects for life on this unusual world aren't good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice. But the discovery indicates that the movie's iconic double sunset is anything but science fiction. – NASA / JPL-Caltech
Kepler-186f is the first Earth-size planet discovered in the potentially 'habitable zone' around another star, where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. Its star is much cooler and redder than our Sun. If plant life does exist on a planet like Kepler-186f, its photosynthesis could have been influenced by the star's red-wavelength photons, making for a colour palette that's very different than the greens on Earth. Kepler, NASA’s planet hunting telescope, made this discovery. – NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA / JPL-Caltech

Although the advertised trips on these posters seem like impossible dreams today, with recreational space travel still in the pipeline or out of reach for most of us, NASA hopes that they will inspire future generations.

As they say on the website: “Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.”

Until the time comes when space travel is a reality, these posters will have to fill the void.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

All 14 posters are available to download for free on the NASA /JPL’s website and limited edition prints of the latest three are also available from Invisible Creatures.

Explore #NASA #space
  1. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/
  2. http://www.invisiblecreature.com/shop/posters/
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