NASA's Sunset Simulator shows us a dreamy, cosmic kaleidoscope

Ever wondered how sunsets look like from another world? NASA offers us a glimpse into what feels like a science fiction movie.

Sunset at Gusev Crater, Mars as captured in color by NASA's Curiosity rover, indicating a blue sky (left) in comparison to Earth's red (right). Photo: Courtesy of NASA

We already have an actual footage of what sunset looks like in Mars. Using that and Earth's sunset as reference, astronomers are able to test what it could look like in other planets.

Geronimo Villanueva, a scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was building a computer modelling tool for a possible future mission to Uranus when he created the simulations. 

He has been studying how the Uranian atmosphere scatters the Sun's light, but why stop there? Along with the familiar sunsets of our planet Earth, Villanueva shows the public what it could also look like for Mars, Venus, Titan, and even TRAPPIST-1e, an exoplanet discovered to be potentially habitable and suited to host life.

Rich azure lights and tangerine tones are just some of the spectacular shades you'll find. But what gives off those colours and why are they different in every planet? Sunsets are a result of light passing through the atmosphere, changing angles as it interacts with various elements like gas, dust, and vapor. The surface composition of every planet's atmosphere are different due to how the Solar System was formed. Space scientists can use this to test and gain a better understanding about how these elements behave.

The second video below shows a more technical perspective with the Sun moving as if seen from the surface through wide-angle lens.

Video: Courtesy of Geronimo Villanueva/James Tralie/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Video: Courtesy of Geronimo Villanueva/James Tralie/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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