Jeronimo Villanueva, NASA’s planetary scientist, visualized how sunsets look on Uranus, as well as on Earth, Mars, Venus and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, while creating a computer modeling tool for a potential future mission to Uranus. As stated in NASA, this tool is being developed with the goal of once passing it through the atmosphere of Uranus to study its atmosphere in detail.
Sunsets occur on planets when they rotate far from the light of their star (in our case, the Sun). During this process, photons (light particles) scatter in different directions depending on the types of molecules in the atmosphere. That is why these simulations are now a valuable tool for studying distant atmospheres.
Using known information about the atmospheres of these worlds, the planetologist created a set of sky simulations that show how the sunset will look in different worlds. The animations show exactly the view that you would see if you were looking at the sky from these planets through a wide camera lens. The white dot here indicates the location of the sun.
These sky simulations are now part of an online tool known as the Planet Spectrum Generator, which was developed by NASA scientists. With it, scientists can simulate how light moves in the atmosphere of objects – from planets to comets. Scientists can also explore the atmospheres of distant worlds and better understand their surfaces and atmospheres.