NASA's Perseverance rover captures video of solar eclipse from Mars
Phobos crossed the face of the Sun for about 40 secondsBy Shawn Knight
What just happened? NASA's Perseverance rover recently captured video of a solar eclipse from the surface of Mars. On April 2, the rover's next-gen Mastcam-Z camera recorded footage of one of Mars' two moons crossing the face of the Sun. The event lasted just over 40 seconds, not surprising considering Phobos is about 157 times smaller than our own Moon. At its widest point, it's only around 16 miles across.
It's not the first time NASA has captured a solar eclipse from the Martian surface, but this is the most zoomed-in, highest frame rate version to date.
In 2004, rovers Spirit and Opportunity captured time-lapse photos of Phobos during a solar eclipse. In 2012, Curiosity became the first to get video of a Martian solar eclipse.
The Mastcam-Z camera that recorded the footage from Perseverance features a solar filter to reduce light intensity. The camera also shoots in color, unlike earlier systems. The resulting video highlights detail in the shape of Phobos' shadow including ridges and bumps on the potato-shaped moon. Sunspots are also visible in the footage.
"I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't expect it to be this amazing," said Rachel Howson, one of the Mastcam-Z team members who operates the camera. Speaking about seeing the full-resolution video for the first time, Howson said, "You know what's coming, but there is still an element of surprise when you get to see the final product."
Phobos is expected to remain in orbit around Mars for tens of millions of years before eventually crashing into the Red Planet.