"OSIRIS Mars true color" by ESA / CC BY-SA 3.0

The strange sight of a solar eclipse on Mars

Apr 5, 2019

By Brian Resnick

On Earth, total solar eclipses are spectacular events. But they’re the result of a total coincidence: The moon in the moments it passes between Earth and the sun is just the right size to cover the sun completely from where we stand. It blots it out, revealing the sun’s atmosphere, the great glowing solar corona.

There’s no scientific reason for this. We’re just lucky.

In March, NASA’s Curiosity Rover got to witness two solar eclipses of the red planet.

The most striking one was the Martian moon Phobos, which sped by Mars on March 26. Unlike on Earth, the moons of Mars do not completely blot out the sun. Instead, they appear as smallish, potato-shaped objects transiting across the surface of the sun.

Here’s what the rover saw on March 26, as the Martian moon Phobos crossed the face of the sun.

The image of Phobos was taken with Curiosity’s Mast Camera, with a special solar filter attached (kind of like the solar eclipse glasses you’d use to look at the sun on Earth). NASA just released these images Thursday.

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