Perseverance Rover Images Solar Eclipse by Phobos on Mars

NASA Mars rover Perseverance observed an eclipse (or more properly, transit) of Mars’s innermost and larger moon Phobos across the Sun. This is not the first time such an event has been imaged from the Martian surface, but this video captured the transit which, due to the short orbital period of Phobos, only lasts around thirty seconds, at a high frame rate and with resolution sufficient to show sunspots.

Phobos, only 27×22×18 km in size, is too small to completely obscure the Sun, so such events are considered transits or annular eclipses. Phobos is too small for its gravity to compress it into a sphere, and its irregular, potato-shaped form is visible in the transit.

Mars’s smaller moon, Deimos, can also transit the Sun, but since it is even smaller and farther from the planet, appears as a dot crossing the Sun, around 2½ times the apparent diameter of Venus in a transit of Venus seen from the Earth.

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