Video of the day: Solar eclipse on Mars

The presented animation is made up of the footage taken using the Mastcam-Z camera installed on board the Perseverance rover. It shows a solar eclipse on Mars.

Mars has two moons — Phobos and Deimos. Thanks to this, as well as on Earth, solar eclipses can also be observed on the Red Planet. However, although the angular size of the Sun in the Martian sky is 40% smaller than on Earth, its moons are also much smaller than the Moon. Therefore, total solar eclipses are impossible on Mars. Deimos can cover up to 10% of the solar disk, Phobos — from a third to a half.

It is the latter scenario that can be seen in the animation published by the specialists of the Perseverance mission support group. It is made up of pictures taken by the rover on April 2, 2022. The video demonstrates what the passage of Phobos looks like against the background of the solar disk. The event lasted about 40 seconds.

This is not the first video of a solar eclipse on Mars. Previously, similar shots were taken by the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers. However, Perseverance has much more advanced optics, capable of shooting with high resolution and shooting frequency. Thanks to this, we can observe unprecedented details like the shape of Phobos, as well as sunspots.

It should be noted that the orbit of Phobos passes at such a short distance from the Martian surface that in its movement the moon “outstrips” the planet, making one revolution around it in just 9 hours. Because of this, it rises in the west and sets over the horizon in the east. At the same time, the distance between the Mars moon is gradually decreasing. According to the latest calculations, in about 40 million years, Phobos will pass the Roche limit and be torn apart by Martian gravity. The wreck of the moon will form a ring around the planet, which will then gradually fall out on its surface.

Recall that recently the Perseverance rover reached the ancient river delta.

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