How “Real” Are the Worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek?

Hurt's view of the Milky Way galaxy
Hurt’s view of the Milky Way galaxy

So you say that you like the planets in Star Wars and Star Trek, but are really jonesing to go to one of those places in real life?

In this video from Wired, Visualization Scientist Robert Hurk from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory discusses analogues for Star Wars’ Hoth, Star Trek’s Romulus and Remus, and LV-426 from Alien. For the first two – it turns out you don’t have to go too far from home, as Hoth can be matched by Saturn’s Enceladus, while Romulus and Remus’ “orbiting planets” are somewhat like Pluto and it’s “moon,” Charon, which orbit a center of gravity between the two while also orbiting the sun – verrrrry slowly.

As for the bulk of exoplanets out there – they’re most likely going to be at least as inhospitable as Alien’s LV-426. Nasty places to do business, so the profit better be huge.

Hurt, a sci-fi fan who hoped one day to be doing special effects before he joined up with NASA, also explained how he hid a Babylon 5 Easter egg in a recent depiction of an asteroid belt surrounding a recently discovered star system. Check out the second video for Hurk discussing the importance of art in his job, and how his best guesses sometimes lead to discoveries.

Science fiction continues to be the fuel for tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and lots and lots of others.