NASA has already this week released two spooky Hubble photos marking Halloween. Now the US-based space agency is attempting to scare exoplanet enthusiasts with a pair vintage-style B-movie horror posters advertising horrifyingly inhospitable planets found outside our Solar System. In addition, NASA has released a 1950’s-style advert, incorporating archive black-and-white footage and carefully-rendered cliched special effects. Free to download, the entertaining posters recall vintage horror movie advertisements, with a decidedly astronomical angle.
Dubbed Galaxy of Horrors, the fun yet informative series is the result of a collaboration of scientists and artists and was produced by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Office.
The same program was also responsible for the recent exoplanet Travel Bureau poster series, which imagined astronauts exploring some of the thousands of exoplanets now known to exist.
Among the horrifyingly inhospitable worlds highlighted in NASA’s Halloween posters is HD 189733 b.
This inhospitable world has an atmosphere full of silicates – the key component in sand and glass – and winds thoughts to be blowing at more than 5,400mph (6,700kph).
But it is far from dead as like other pulsars, PSRB 1257+12 produces dual beams of intense radiation visible from vast distances.
Stray radiation and high-energy particles would attack the three nearby planets, spelling a speedy demise for life as we know it.
Thalia Rivera, a NASA outreach specialist who led the development of the new posters, said: “People are often most interested in finding exoplanets that could resemble Earth or potentially support life as we know it.
“But there are so many other amazing, mystifying planets out there that are completely unlike Earth and that show us the huge variety of ways planets can form and evolve.
“My favourite thing about exoplanets is how extreme they can get!”
Space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, with a majority of those detected in the last 15 years by the now-retired Kepler telescope.
NASA has multiple missions searching for and studying exoplanets, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
They will be joined by upcoming missions, including the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2021, and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), expected to become operational in the mid-2020s.
The Exoplanet Exploration Program manages science and engineering tasks in support of NASA’s search for exoplanets. In addition, the program helps engage the public about exoplanet science and increases awareness of NASA’s exoplanet activities.
Gary Blackwood, manager of the Exoplanet Exploration Program, said: “In practical terms, I think for many people the posters are an entryway.
“They make exoplanet science cool, and that opens a door for many members of the public – especially students – to learn more about the science behind the posters.”