Check out NASA’s latest footage of a solar eclipse on Mars

Watching the latest images of a solar eclipse on Mars gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “out of this world.”

Earlier this month, NASA’s Perseverance rover spotted one of Mars’ moons, Phobos, passing by the sun. The 40-second solar eclipse was captured by the rover Mastcam-Z Camera system. It is a partial eclipse due to the size of the moon. Although Phobos is the larger of Mars’ two moons, it is still extremely small, with a diameter of 17 x 14 x 11 miles† Its small size means there can never be a total solar eclipse on Mars. Does not matter what, parts of the sun will always peek out from behind the shadows of the moons of Mars.

This is not the first solar eclipse to be observed from Mars. Other rovers have captured solar eclipses from Earth’s surface many times before, including this one from 2012, as seen by the Curiosity rover:

But these new images are the “most zoomed-in video of a Phobos eclipse to date — and at the fastest frame rate ever,” it said. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Mastcam-Z camera is a major upgrade from previous rovers’ cameras. It’s a zoomable color camera and has a sunscreen “that acts like sunglasses to reduce light intensity,” according to JPL. The result? We can see Phobos’ steep shadow pass over the sun, along with some sunspots on our star’s orange surface.

“I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this great,” Rachel Howson of Malin Space Science Systems, one of the people operating the Mastcam-Z camera, said in a statement

In addition to being cool, the images are also useful to scientists studying Phobos’ orbit and its relationship to Mars. As the moon orbits the planet, the two bodies exert a gravitational pull on each other. Phobos pulls on the crust and interior of Mars, and Mars’ gravity pulls the moon toward the planet and changes its orbit. In fact, Phobos has a fairly limited lifespan. It’s being pulled toward Mars at more than six feet every century, and scientists think the moon will eventually be pulled apart over the next tens of millions of years. Luckily for us, that leaves plenty of time for robbers to capture beautiful videos like this one released this week.


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