NASA’s Persistence robot captured images of Mars’ potato-sized moon Phobos, crossing the face of the Sun. According to NASA, “these observations may help scientists better understand the Moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the surface of Mars, shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.”
The eclipse was recorded on April 2 and lasted just over 40 seconds, making it much shorter than a solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. This is because Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s satellite.
NASA explains that Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera has a sunscreen that acts like sunglasses to reduce the intensity of incident light. “You can see details in the shape of Phobos’ shadow, such as ridges and bumps in the Moon’s landscape,” said Mark Lemon, an astronomer who conducted most of Phobos’ observations from Mars.
As the Moon orbits Mars, it slightly deforms the rocks in the planet’s crust and mantle due to its gravitational force. This will allow geophysicists to better understand the interior of the planet. As Phobos approaches the surface of Mars, it is bound to collide with it in millions of years.