Mars’ potato-like satellite, Phobos, has crossed the front of the Sun in spectacular fashion, as taken by the Mars Perseverance rover. To better comprehend the moon’s trajectory and how its gravitational pull affects the surface of Mars, researchers may use these findings.
During the 397th Mars day or sol of the expedition, Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera caught the encounter, which extended just over 40 seconds—a fraction of the time of a normal Earth-Moon solar eclipse. ) (Phobos is approximately 157 orders of magnitude smaller than the Moon.) Deimos, the smallest of Mars’ two moons, is even smaller.
It’s not the first time that NASA satellites have captured photographs of astronomical events on Mars. Phobos was initially captured in time-lapse photography by the Spirit & Opportunity rovers in 2004 throughout a solar event. Videos recorded by Curiosity’s Mastcam imaging system maintained the pattern.
A Phobos sun eclipse was captured at the greatest fps and maximum zoom level yet by the Perseverance spacecraft, which arrived in February 2021. Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera setup, an improvement from Curiosity’s Mastcam, is to credit for this.
This Phobos solar eclipse’s coloring scheme also distinguishes it unique from others. The solar filter on Mastcam-Z operates like a pair of shades, reducing the amount of light entering the camera. The moon’s surface seems to have grooves and lumps in the shadow cast by Phobos. Sunspots may also be seen. There is a lot of fun to be had watching this eclipse from Earth, much as the Mars rover did.
Phobos’ gravitational pull causes minor tidal stresses in Mars’ core, significantly warping the planet’s surface and subsurface as it rounds the Red Planet. As a result of these pressures, Phobos’ orbit gradually shifts. These changes may be used to better grasp how flexible the subsurface of Mars is, allowing geoscientists to learn much more about the surface and mantle’s composition.