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NASA’s Perseverance rover captures stunning images of a solar eclipse from Mars

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Watch a solar eclipse from MARS! NASA’s Perseverance rover captures stunning images of the Red Planet’s potato-shaped moon Phobos crossing the face of the sun

  • The eclipse occurred on the 397th Mars day of Perseverance and lasted only 40 seconds
  • This is much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s moon
  • While previous rovers have captured solar eclipses from Mars, Perseverance’s images are the most zoomed-in video of a Phobos eclipse to date

Seeing a solar eclipse is on many people’s bucket list — and now NASA has gone one step further and revealed what the phenomenon looks like from Mars.

The space agency’s Perseverance rover has captured stunning images of Mars’ potato-shaped moon Phobos intersecting the face of the sun.

The rover, which has been on Mars since February 2021, captured the images on April 2 with its next-generation Mastcam-Z camera.

“I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this great,” said Rachel Howson of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, one of the Mastcam-Z team members operating the camera.

While previous rovers — including Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity — have captured images of solar eclipses from Mars, Perseverance’s (pictured) images are the most zoomed-in video of a Phobos eclipse to date.

Phobos: the potato-shaped moon of Mars

Phobos is the larger of Mars’ two moons, measuring 27 by 22 by 18 kilometers in diameter.

It orbits Mars three times a day and is so close to the planet’s surface that it can’t always be seen in some places on Mars.

Phobos is approaching Mars at a rate of 1.8 meters per hundred years; at that rate, it will either crash onto Mars within 50 million years or disintegrate into a ring.

Its most notable feature is the 9.7-kilometer-long crater Stickney, whose impact causes streaks across the moon’s surface.

Phobos is the larger of Mars’ two moons, measuring 27 by 22 by 18 kilometers in diameter.

It orbits Mars three times a day and is so close to the planet’s surface that it can’t always be seen in some places on Mars.

The eclipse occurred on Perseverance’s 397th Mars day and lasted just over 40 seconds.

This is much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon, which is not surprising given that Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon.

While previous rovers — including Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity — have captured images of solar eclipses from Mars, Perseverance’s images are the most zoomed-in video of a Phobos eclipse to date.

The Perseverance images are also the first to show a Phobos eclipse in color.

“You can see details in the shape of Phobos’ shadow, such as ridges and bumps in the lunar landscape,” said Mark Lemmon, a planetary astronomer at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who has orchestrated most of the Phobos observations from Mars. robbers.

‘You can also see sunspots. And it’s cool that you can see this eclipse exactly as the rover saw it from Mars.”

The eclipse occurred on Perseverance's 397th Mars day and lasted just over 40 seconds

The eclipse occurred on Perseverance’s 397th Mars day and lasted just over 40 seconds

Phobos is the larger of Mars' two moons, measuring 27 by 22 by 18 kilometers in diameter

Phobos is the larger of Mars’ two moons, measuring 27 by 22 by 18 kilometers in diameter

The rover sends low-resolution thumbnails back to Earth first, before shipping the full-resolution versions.

“It feels like a birthday or holiday when they arrive,” Ms Howson said.

“You know what’s coming, but there’s still an element of surprise when you see the finished product.”

NASA hopes the images will help scientists better understand the dynamics between Phobos and Mars.

As the moon orbits Mars, its gravity exerts small tidal forces on the planet’s interior, slightly deforming the rock in Mars’ crust and mantle.

These interactions are also slowly changing Phobos’ orbit, according to NASA.

“As a result, geophysicists can use those changes to better understand how pliable Mars’ interior is, and reveal more about the materials in the crust and mantle,” NASA added.

Unfortunately, scientists already know that Phobos is doomed to fail.

The moon is approaching Mars at a rate of 1.8 meters per 100 years. At that rate, it will either crash onto Mars within 50 million years, or disintegrate into a ring.

Mars: the basics

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, with a 'near-death' dusty, cold desert world with a very thin atmosphere

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, with a ‘near-death’ dusty, cold desert world with a very thin atmosphere

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, with a ‘near-death’ dusty, cold desert world with a very thin atmosphere.

Mars is also a dynamic planet with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons, extinct volcanoes and evidence that it was even more active in the past.

It is one of the most explored planets in the solar system and the only planet sent by humans to explore.

A day on Mars is just over 24 hours and a year is 687 Earth days.

Facts and numbers

Turnaround time: 687 days

Surface: 144.8 million km²

Distance from Zon: 227.9 million km

Gravity: 3,721 m/s²

Ray: 3.389.5 km

moons: Phobos, Deimos

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