The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is our biggest fan of space exploration (their budget kind of depends on it), portraying the cosmos as an endless frontier full of marvelous possibilities. But this Halloween, NASA would like to remind us that for every planet with half a gram of hospitality, there are millions out there so scary that it seems like they should share a galaxy with Planet X and whatever spandex hellhole the Invasion of the Saucer Men came from. So what better way to put them in the spooky spotlight than to give them the ’50s sci-fi horror movie treatment?
Making a brief departure from designing fake tourism ads for exoplanets that look they’re from a time when you could still smoke in spaceships, the Studio at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory presents Galaxy of Horrors, a Halloween spectacular showcasing a few planets that’ll rip through the roof of your space cruiser and eat your space-boyfriend.
These are nightmares like the “Zombie Worlds,” three decaying planets in the grip of the undead star PSR B1257+12, or “Lich,” its twin beams of blasting irradiation turning these sickly glowing globes (and any ships foolish enough to go near them) into radioactive graveyards.
Then there’s the deathtrap that is HD 189733 b. From a distance, this azure planet looks inviting, but look out! Its inviting exterior masks its “Rains of Terror,” glassy silicate that rips across the surface at multiple times the speed of sound, turning any would-be explorer into red mist. Death would need a centrifuge to collect their soul.
So this Halloween, enjoy your Mars bases, Space Forces, and TRAPPIST-1’s for what they are: brief reprieves in a galaxy that churns out planets that’d turn your skin inside-out before offering you a breath of fresh air.
For more weird tangents and to read his spec script ‘Planet of the Opera,’ you can follow Cedric on Twitter.