Everybody wants to go to Mars these days, not least of all Elon Musk, who might very well be hoping to retire there after he turns into a cyborg. But for those of you who haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, SpaceX just dropped some travel posters of the Red Planet to entice you.
For a company known for pushing the technological envelope forward, the Mars travel posters are endearingly retro. Like the exoplanet tourism posters NASA dropped earlier this year, this calls back to a simpler time, when science fiction was about valiant heroes with jetpacks and ray guns fighting bug-eyed space aliens. Let's take a peek at 'em.
Valles Marineris is a system of canyons that run along the Martian equator. More than 2,500 miles long, 120 miles wide and 23,000 feet deep, this rift system, probably the result of ancient tectonic activity, is one of the largest in our solar system, surpassed only by a handful of rift valleys here on Earth. It'd probably be a rather fun place to explore, even bring the kids — assuming you have jetpacks and a bubble helmet like this guy does.
Only the most adventurous hikers should try to scale Olympus Mons, a shield volcano three times taller than Mount Everest. Despite being utterly massive — the entire mountain covers a surface area roughly the size of Arizona — it's actually a rather shallow ascent, with an average slope of only 5 degrees. This poster, then, might be making a teensy exaggeration, probably to sell us on the gondola, which does look pretty great.
Mars has two funny little lopsided moons, Phobos (fear) and Deimos (panic), named after the horses that pulled the chariot of the Greek war god Ares. Thought to be captured asteroids, both moons are tidally locked, always presenting the same face toward Mars, meaning you can certainly look forward to constant vistas of the red planet if choose your real estate wisely.
Of course, Mars in reality is still a cold, airless wasteland, and none of the places depicted in this poster are likely to be good spots for human settlement. Still, you've got to applaud the company for trying to turn Mars into an attractive and exotic tourist destination. I almost want to pack my oxygen mask and go.
You can download these images and plenty more of SpaceX's Creative Commons eye candy on Flickr.