NASA’s rover captures glimpse of solar eclipse on Mars

NASA’s rover captures glimpse of solar eclipse on Mars
NASA’s rover has captured a glimpse of solar eclipse on Mars.

In our Solar System, any planet with moons has a chance for a solar eclipse. It happens when a moon passes directly between its planet parent and the Sun.

From planet Earth, they can appear partial, total, or annular. But on Mars, only partial or annular eclipses occur.

Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both are too small to completely cover the Sun's disk. Just like Earth's moon, Phobos and Deimos cast cone-shaped shadows as they orbit through the Solar System.

However, those cones reach their end before encountering Mars's surface. As a result, Martian solar eclipses never block out the Sun's disk completely.

Smaller and more distant, Deimos appears tiny and dark, slowly passing between the Sun and Mars. Phobos, however, is larger, closer, and more irregular, creating a spectacular silhouette against the Sun.

From NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover's Mastcam, humanity learns exactly what Martian solar eclipses look like.

The Phobos eclipse occurred on April 4, 2020; Deimos's occurred on March 28, 2020. In its ancient past, Mars may have had an innermost, third moon, bringing total eclipses along with it.