NASA’s researchers have created a virtual planet simulator where anybody can journey to a certain planet and choose between different options regarding its natural conditions.
From which options can you choose?
NASA’s The Exoplanet Travel Bureau has different star systems where distant worlds can be visited. The first option is the Trappist system, a system of seven planets that last year was speculated to have a water source and Earth-like planets 40 light years away. Trappist 1e has a radius and mass nearly the same as Jupiter, a large iron core and a blood red sky. The second option is Kepler-16b which resembles Star Wars’ desert planet, Tatooine. It is 200 light years away and the largest planet found orbiting two stars.
The third option is Kepler-186f which is orbiting a star much redder and cooler than the sun over 500 light years away. Despite the project’s tools, it is not certain if Kepler-186f has an atmosphere and you can toggle it on and off. It was the first Earth-size planet that was validated to orbit a star where liquid water might exist. Its discovery has confirmed that Earth-size planets do exist in the liveable zones of other stars.
The last two only have different names but they aren’t the same planetary system.
NASA still has a long way to go
Researchers have limited information about these systems and not even about the Earth’s closest exoplanets. They don’t have images of any of these planets as with Jupiter, Plutor or Mars because astronauts haven’t explored them.
According to Brett Addison and Jonti Horner, these exoplanets were found by watching stars in order to see if they wink or wobble. NASA still has a lot of work to do in order to have a complete description of these planets. However, their virtual sights can be viewed even in VR.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca