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Judi Lynn

(160,838 posts)
Wed Jun 24, 2020, 05:23 PM Jun 2020

See a sunset on Uranus, other worlds (and a moon, too) in this NASA simulator [View all]

By Chelsea Gohd 10 hours ago

Behold, the work of NASA's Sunset Simulator.

If you watched the sun set on Uranus, the sky would start off as a brilliant blue and fade into deeper blues with striking turquoise notes. So how do we know that?

Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, visualized what sunsets look like on Uranus (at the 1-minute, 43-second mark in the video above), as well as on Earth, Mars, Venus and Saturn's largest moon Titan while building a computer modeling tool for a potential future mission to Uranus. This tool is being developed with the ultimate goal to perhaps one day carry it through Uranus' atmosphere to study the atmosphere in person, according to a NASA statement.

But for now, because sunsets happen with planets rotate away from the light of their star (in our case, the sun) and during this process photons (light particles) are scattered in different directions depending on the types of molecules in the atmosphere, these simulations are a valuable tool for exploring far-off atmospheres.

Using known information about these worlds' atmospheres, Villanueva created a set of sky simulations that show what sunset would look like on these worlds. In the animations created from these simulations, the view is what you would see if you were looking up at the sky from these worlds through a wide camera lens, with a white dot representing the sun's location.

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