Eclipses

Wow! Perseverance Sees a Solar Eclipse on Mars

Imagine standing on Mars, and seeing this with your own eyes.

The Perseverance rover watched as the potato-shaped moon Phobos passed in front of the Sun, from the vantage point of Jezero Crater on Mars. Perseverance used its high-resolution Mastcam-Z camera system to shoot video of Phobos, and NASA says the result is the most zoomed-in, highest frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface.

The stunning eclipse took place on April 2, 2022 (Earth date, of course) and the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds. That means this video is very close to what Perseverance witnessed in real time. The time it takes for Phobos eclipse the Sun is much less time than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon, since Phobos is about 157 times smaller than our own Moon. The Mastcam-Z has special solar filters that allow it to stare directly at the Sun. The video is of such high resolution, that even sunspots are visible on the Sun.

Scientists say that each time these eclipses are observed, it allow them to measure subtle shifts in Phobos’ orbit over time. The moon’s tidal forces pull on the deep interior of the Red Planet, as well as its crust and mantle, and so studying how much Phobos shifts over time reveals something about how resistant the crust and mantle are, and thus what kinds of materials they’re made of.

All I know is, this is incredibly awe-inspiring.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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