NASAs Perseverance rover captures the eclipse of the Sun by
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NASA’s Perseverance rover captures the eclipse of the Sun by its imperfect moon Phobos.

One of the cameras on NASA’s Perseverance rover took a series of 68 photographs the passage of Mars’s satellite Phobos across the face of the Sun. Previously, similar images were taken by other NASA rovers. A series of Perseverance images added to this collection, from which NASA experts made a video of the Martian solar eclipse. The imperfect shape of the satellite makes its shadow look like the silhouette of a potato.

  Image source: NASA

Image source: NASA

Phobos is one of the two satellites of Mars and is closer to it. Now it is on average at an altitude of 6000 km above the surface of the Red Planet. Like the history of Deimos, the origin of Phobos is still considered unknown. The Japanese mission MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) was supposed to help solve this riddle. Its launch was expected in February 2024, but due to two consecutive failures of the promising Japanese H3 rocket, the mission was postponed to 2026.

The Japanese probe should land on Phobos and take samples of its soil for return to Earth. The Japanese have shown themselves to be masters in landing vehicles on asteroids, and Phobos is more of an asteroid than a small planet. Also, data on the composition of the Phobos soil can shed light on the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere in the long-term historical perspective. The satellite orbits close enough to the planet that molecules of atmospheric gases can leave a trace in its minerals.

For now, we can only admire the footage from the rover, which observes the behavior of Phobos in its natural habitat.

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Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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