Rachel Howson form NASA: "Solar eclipse on Mars was extraordinary"

NASA shared photos and videos of a solar eclipse on Mars, truly incredible images

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Rachel Howson form NASA: "Solar eclipse on Mars was extraordinary"

NASA shared photos and videos of a solar eclipse on Mars, truly incredible images. Perseverance, the NASA rover that landed on Mars last year, filmed the moon Phobos as it passed the Sun for about 40 seconds. Filming was done by Mastcam-Z, a camera installed on Perseverance: it was April 2, the 397th Martian day of the mission, the eclipse lasted just over 40 seconds, much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving the Moon terrestrial, as Phobos is about 157 times smaller than our single satellite.

Perseverance, which landed in February 2021, provided the largest zoomed video of a Phobos solar eclipse ever and with the highest frame rate ever thanks to Perseverance's next-generation Mastcam-Z camera system. Rachel Howson member of NASA's Mastcam-Z team said, "I knew it was going to be cool, but I didn't expect it to be so extraordinary.

It feels like a birthday or a holiday when they arrive. You know what's coming, but there's still an element of surprise when see the final product. " Scientists claim that Phobos is set to crash into the planet in tens of millions of years.

The satellites of Mars

The planet Mars has two small natural satellites: Fobos and Deimos. It is the only rocky planet in the inner solar system to have a system of satellites. Discovered in August 1877 by Asaph Hall, they travel through almost circular prograde orbits, very close to the equatorial plane of Mars.

Phobos, the innermost, completes its orbit in just over a third of the planet's rotation period - a unique case in the solar system. Consequently it is subject to significant tidal actions by Mars which cause a constant reduction of the orbit and which will eventually cause its disintegration.

They have an irregular shape, not resolvable by the Earth. They have been photographed and studied mainly by space probes whose primary objective was the study of Mars. Their origin is still an open question. Some believe them to be captured asteroids, others hypothesize that they were formed by accretion in the process that also led to the formation of the planet Mars.

Since the 1970s it has been speculated that Mars may be surrounded by dust belts associated with Phobos and Deimos. In fact, Steven Soter in 1971 observed that the debris generated by the impacts of hyperfast objects with the two moons of the planet should have a speed sufficient to overcome the weak gravity of Fobos and Deimos and enter orbit around Mars, where they would accumulate mainly in proximity of the orbits of the two satellites. Despite this hypothesis enjoying wide credit, the research has failed to produce any observations to support him.