NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Captures Stunning Image of Phobos Eclipsing the Sun

While there may be no Martians to witness the celestial phenomena on Mars, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has captured a mesmerizing image of the misshapen moon, Phobos, eclipsing the sun. The rover’s cameras, situated atop its mast, acted as a crow’s nest aboard a ship, allowing it to capture this awe-inspiring moment on Feb. 8.

In the image, we can see Phobos, with its distinctive shape, partially blocking the sun as it moves between Mars and the star. Against the backdrop of distant stars, this captured snapshot showcases the cosmic dance of celestial bodies.

Phobos, unlike our moon, has an irregular shape due to its relatively small size and lack of mass. Measuring only 17 miles (27 kilometers) long on its longest side, it is too light for gravity to have molded it into a sphere, as explained by the European Space Agency. Moreover, Phobos bears the scars of countless meteorite impacts, with Stickney crater, spanning 5.6 miles (nine kilometers) wide, being the most prominent.

Interestingly, the future of Phobos as a moon is uncertain. Every year, it moves approximately six feet (1.8 meters) closer to Mars. NASA predicts that at this rate, Phobos will either collide with the Red Planet in 50 million years or disintegrate, forming a ring.

While the Mars Perseverance rover is not busy capturing stunning images of celestial events, it is diligently exploring the Jezero Crater’s dried-up river delta on Mars. This location, which was potentially filled with water some 3 billion years ago, has piqued NASA scientists’ interest as a promising site to uncover evidence of past microscopic life.

Through its remarkable discoveries and images, the Perseverance rover continues to deepen our understanding of the Red Planet and brings us closer to unraveling the mysteries of our neighboring celestial bodies.

Martians: Refers to hypothetical inhabitants or beings from Mars.

Mars Perseverance rover: A robotic rover mission by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) launched in 2020 to explore the surface of Mars.

Phobos: One of Mars’ two moons, known for its irregular shape and small size.

Celestial phenomena: Events or occurrences that happen in space, such as eclipses, planetary alignments, and other astronomical events.

Crow’s nest: Refers to an elevated platform or lookout point on a ship or structure, typically associated with being high up and providing a good view.

Cosmic dance: Symbolic expression used to describe the movement and interaction of celestial bodies in space.

European Space Agency (ESA): An intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration and research of space, consisting of 22 member states.

Gravity: The force that attracts objects with mass towards each other.

Stickney crater: The largest crater on Phobos, measuring approximately 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) in width.

Red Planet: A nickname often used to refer to Mars, due to its reddish appearance.

Jezero Crater: A crater on Mars where the Perseverance rover is currently exploring. It is believed to have once contained a lake or river delta.

Microscopic life: Refers to organisms or forms of life that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria or certain types of algae.

Related links:
NASA Mars 2020 Mission
NASA Official Website