Photo of Lunar Eclipse…on MARS!

Annular Eclipse of the Sun by Phobos

Annular Eclipse of the Sun by Phobos, as Seen by Curiosity. Image Credit NASA/JPL

MSL Curiosity Rover takes clearest images ever of Eclipse on Mars.

Photos of the Moon passing in front of the Sun on Earth are a dime a dozen. This series of images are of a lunar eclipse on MARS!.The distinctive shape of the Martian moon Phobos can clearly be seen as it passes directly through the center of the Sun. The images were captured by the MSL Curiosity rover three seconds apart on August 20th 2013.

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“This event occurred near noon at Curiosity’s location, which put Phobos at its closest point to the rover, appearing larger against the sun than it would at other times of day,” said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station, a co-investigator for use of Curiosity’s Mastcam. “This is the closest to a total eclipse of the sun that you can have from Mars.”… “This one is by far the most detailed image of any Martian lunar transit ever taken, and it is especially useful because it is annular. It was even closer to the sun’s center than predicted, so we learned something.”

Unlike our own moon which is perfectly positioned to cover the orb of the Sun during an eclipse Phobos is much smaller. Due to it not being large enough for gravity to force it into a smooth round ball shape the moon is irregular in shape and this can be clearly seen in these Martian eclipse images.

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Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.