NASA’s Perseverance rover captures video of the Phobos solar eclipse from the surface of Mars

If you’ve ever imagined how a solar eclipse would appear from the surface of Mars, you’re in for a treat. NASA shared a “time-lapse” video that showed one of Mars’ two moons shadowing the Sun as seen from the Martian surface. The interesting video was shot by the space agency’s Perseverance rover when Phobos, a small potato-shaped moon from the Red Planet, moved between Mars and the Sun. “You’re just too good to be true. I can’t take my eyes off you,” NASA said, sharing the video on its Instagram account.

These observations are helping scientists better understand the subtle changes in the moon’s orbits and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle. NASA’s Perseverance rover used its next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2 to capture the video.

The video showed a tiny, irregularly shaped object entering the view between Mars and the Sun from the upper right corner, then moving slowly towards the center and finally exiting on the far side of the Sun’s edge. Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Scientists have found that Phobos gravity experts have small tidal forces on Mars, which alter the moon’s orbit, bringing it closer to the Martian surface. Phobos will eventually crash into the Martian surface in tens of millions of years.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which made the rover, said in a statement that the eclipse lasted 40 seconds – much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s moon.

Several probes sent to Mars have already captured solar eclipses from the Red Planet. But Perseverance provided the most magnified video of a solar eclipse from Phobos to date – and at the highest frame rate ever.

Perseverance landed on the Red Planet in February 2021. Its main purpose is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. He studies and analyzes rock and dust from the Red Planet and collects them for a future manned mission when these samples are brought back to Earth for further analysis.


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