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NASA Releases Stunning Video from Perseverance Rover of Martian Moon Phobos Passing the Sun in Solar Eclipse
You might have seen a solar eclipse before—but not one like this.
NASA released stunning footage showing Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, passing by the sun on Wednesday. The video was captured on April 2 by the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z high-definition camera, which allowed it to take the clearest, most zoomed in video of a Martian eclipse to date.
“I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this amazing,” Rachel Howson of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego and one of the operators of Mastcam-Z, said in a NASA press release.
Aside from its incredible quality, the video is also notable for its color. A solar filter on Mastcam-Z reduces light intensity, allowing it to capture details of the potato-shaped moon you wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye.
“You can see details in the shape of Phobos’ shadow, like ridges and bumps on the moon’s landscape,” Mark Lemmon, a planetary astronomer with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado and who has led most of the observations of Phobos by Mars rovers, said in the release. “You can also see sunspots. And it’s cool that you can see this eclipse exactly as the rover saw it from Mars.”
It’s not just a cool video either. Researchers now hope that the footage will give them insights into Phobos’ orbit, how it impacts gravity on Mars, as well as how the planet’s crust and mantle are shaped. It also gives scientists a look into the moon’s ultimate demise.
Yes, demise: Phobos is in a “death spiral,” destined to crash into the Red Planet in a few tens of millions of years, according to the release. Videos of the eclipse helps scientists better understand this slow-motion planetary apocalypse.
Hopefully, with the help of Perseverance, we’ll be able to find the elusive evidence of ancient Martian life before it happens.