The tenacious NASA Rover observes the eclipse of the “Potato” moon on Mars

And while the ATV seems to be looking at the shadow of a potato crossing the red surface of Mars, this is actually Phobos, one of the two little moons on Mars.

Perseverance noticed a 40-second eclipse on April 2nd. If it sounds much shorter than the usual eclipses we can see on Earth as the heat passes in front of the sun, it’s because Phobos is about 157 times smaller than the heat.

Rover continues the 18-year history of robots observing the extinction of Mars, which began with NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity ATVs in 2004, after which it recorded the first video of the extinction of Mars in 2019.

Perseverance has provided the best video to date of this eclipse using the zoom capabilities of a mast-mounted camera system.

“I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be so amazing,” Rachel Howson, a Mastcam-Z camera operator from Mali’s Space Science Systems in San Diego, said in a statement. “When they arrive, it feels like a birthday or a holiday. You know what’s coming, but it’s still a surprise when you see the finished product. “

The video was also filmed in color using sunscreen to reduce the intensity of the light, allowing researchers to learn more about Phobox.

“You can see the details of the shape of Phobos’ shadow, such as the ridges and revelations in the lunar landscape, ”said Mark Lemon, a planetary astronomer at the Institute of Space Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. “You can also see the sunspots. It’s great to see this eclipse just as the spacecraft saw it from Mars. “

The tidal forces caused by the gravity of Phobos stretched the shell and mantle of the red planet and slightly altered the rocks of Mars. This gravitational force, in turn, changes Phobos’ orbit.

Findings of the Phobos eclipse will help scientists track the change in the lunar orbit over time and better predict when Phobos ’time will end.

Phobos is basically doomed to destruction and goes through a slow spiral of death with each orbit as it constantly approaches the surface of Mars. After tens of millions of years, it will either collide with Mars or break into pieces that will rain on Mars.

As scientists use eclipse observations to learn more about Phobox, the Perseverance Chariot has hit the following point of interest: the ancient estuary of the river in the crater of Jezero. The robot researcher collects samples of rock and sediment samples in a fan-shaped manner from the edge of the crater. The crater was born from the place where the river flowed into the crater lake billions of years ago.

“The Lake Delta promises to be a true geological celebration and one of the best places on Mars to look for signs of past microscopic life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s assistant administrator in the science division. “The answers are there – and Team Perseverance is ready to find them.”

The Ingenuity helicopter made its 26th flight on the first anniversary of its first flight a year ago.

The helicopter acts as an air razor while Perseverance explores the estuary.

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