These moons are smaller and way lumpier, but their transits in front of the Sun are still special.

Celestial Blip

Earth isn’t the only place in our solar system where humans have observed a solar eclipse.

Because NASA has the Perseverance rover parked on the surface of the Red Planet, the six-wheeled vehicle had been able to capture Mars’ two diminutive moons — Deimos and Phobos — float past in front of the Sun earlier this year, with pictures posted to the social media platform X-formerly-Twitter last week.

“While Martian moons aren’t the right size or distance to fully cover the Sun, @NASAPersevere recently spotted some cool transits,” the space agency posted, referring to the much smaller and more misshapen appearance of the two moons.

Deimos, which NASA calls small and lumpy” and pockmarked with craters, made its eclipse of the Sun in January, appearing like a smallish, irregularly-shaped black dot in front of the Sun as shown in footage captured by the rover.

And in February, the rover caught Phobos transiting in front of the Sun. This moon is larger than Deimos, but still appears like a smaller black lumpy blot in front of the Sun.

Another wonderful phenomenon that Perseverance caught on video is of Mercury, appearing like a tiny speck, also transiting in front of the Sun last year.

While these are cool celestial events, Earth’s own total solar eclipse with the Moon completely blocking the Sun in a perfect circle puts them to shame, making for an awe-inspiring balletic dance of cosmic proportions.

Mars Attacks

Nonetheless, the eclipses on Mars are interesting because they enable scientists on Earth to measure and monitor the two moons, which are being pulled in different directions from their orbit around the Red Planet.

Phobos, which revolves around Mars threes times a day, is being nudged closer to the surface by six feet every century. That adds up, and it’ll eventually crash into the planet or be pulverized into dust, becoming a ring of floating rubble around Mars in 50 million years or so.

Deimos orbits around Mars every 30 hours, and because it’s so small, it’s predicted to eventually escape Mars’ gravitational pull.

That’s similar to the situation with our own Moon, actually, which is being nudged further away from Earth — albeit at such a slow pace that it’s not anticipated to escape before the death of our Sun.

More on eclipses: Animals Reacted Strangely During the Eclipse


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