NASA’s Perseverance rover sent footage of the solar eclipse as Phobos, one of Mars’ two satellites (along with Deimos), crosses the surface of the Sun.
The eclipse lasted just over 40 seconds and was filmed on April 2, the 397th Martian day or solar mission, by the next-generation Mastcam-Z camera mounted on the Perseverance rover. It is worth noting that Phobos is about 157 times smaller than the Moon.
Thanks to the new camera, Perseverance was able to focus and capture the first such video of a solar eclipse involving Phobos, all at a high frame rate. The Mastcam-Z is also equipped with solar filters that act like sunglasses to reduce the intensity of the light.
“I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this amazing,” said Rachel Howson, one of the Mastcam-Z development team members who runs the camera.
You can see details of Phobos’ shape, such as ridges and irregularities in the lunar landscape. You can also see sunspots. And it’s great that you can see this eclipse exactly as the Mars rover saw it from Mars.
Mark Lemmon, planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado
As Phobos revolves around Mars, its gravity exerts a small tidal influence on the interior of the Red Planet, slightly deforming the rocks in the planet’s crust and mantle. These forces also slowly alter Phobos’ orbit. As a result, geophysicists can use these changes to better understand how malleable the interior of Mars is and learn more about the materials of the crust and mantle.