A photo voltaic eclipse on Earth is normally a sight to behold, and for NASA rovers tasked with exploring Mars, alignments of its moons and the Sun are additionally good cause to look upward. The Perseverance rover has used its superior digital camera system to seize the clearest view but of a photo voltaic eclipse on Mars, which is able to assist scientists in higher understanding the conduct of its doomed moon, Phobos.
NASA’s historical past with recording photo voltaic eclipses on Mars dates again to 2004 when Spirit and Opportunity made the primary observations of Phobos traversing the Sun. In 2019, Curiosity recorded the primary ever video of the occasion and even scored a two-for-one, with the tiny moon Deimos transiting the Sun in the identical month.
These occasions additional scientists’ understanding of shifts in Phobos’ orbit and the way in which tidal forces tug on Mars’ inside, crust and mantle. The moon is destined for destruction in tens of thousands and thousands of years because it spirals towards the Red Planet, and these eclipse occasions additionally make clear the trail it’s taking towards its eventual demise.
The newest happened on April 2 and lasted round 40 seconds, with Perseverance turning its Mastcam-Z digital camera towards the Sun and capturing all of the motion. Because of its next-generation performance, Perseverance was in a position to zero in on its goal and seize essentially the most zoomed-in video of a Phobos photo voltaic eclipse ever taken, additionally on the highest-ever body charge.
“I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this amazing,” stated Rachel Howson, one of many Mastcam-Z workforce members who operates the digital camera.
Mastcam-Z can be kitted out with photo voltaic filters that act like sun shades to scale back the depth of the sunshine, exhibiting the eclipse in coloured element that reveals fascinating traits in regards to the moon’s form.
“You can see details in the shape of Phobos’ shadow, like ridges and bumps on the moon’s landscape,” stated Mark Lemmon, a planetary astronomer with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “You can also see sunspots. And it’s cool that you can see this eclipse exactly as the rover saw it from Mars.”
Check out the video of the eclipse under.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover Sees Solar Eclipse on Mars