InSight Lander Films a 27 Seconds Solar Eclipse on Mars

InSIght Lander catches solar eclipse on Mars 1 photo
Photo: NASA via Twitter
In today’s day and age, it’s a common thing to see, on a smartphone or tablet, events unfolding at opposite sides of the Earth. But how often do we get the chance to see a solar eclipse taking place on Mars?
On Tuesday, NASA released a short GIF showing just how much the passing of Mars’ satellite Phobos in front of the Sun affects the amount of light the planet surface receives. To be able to see it, though, you must pay a lot of attention.

NASA says the entire eclipse lasted only 27 seconds, and the photo sequence that makes up the GIF compresses about 14 minutes of footage taken around noon, local time. That means the Martian equivalent of totality comes and goes in a blink of an eye, literally.

In the left bottom of the corner of the image though one can clearly see InSIght’s shadows shifting position as up in the sky, Phobos was stealing the spotlight.

The short clip showing the eclipse is not the only extraordinary set of images sent back by the lander. During the weekend, as it celebrated its 100th day on Mars, the machine captured a sunset on Elysium Planitia.

Earlier in February, courtesy of the InSight, NASA announced another premiere in space exploration, a free-for-all weather service from Mars.

Officially, InSIght is not on Mars to document what’s going on in the sky, but rather to have a closer look at the events unfolding underneath the crust of the planet.

Using an instrument called Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the lander will attempt to measure the ground motions over a wide range of frequencies to give Earthlings a better understanding of Mars quakes.

Another tool, RISE (Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment), will use the spacecraft's radio connection with Earth to assess perturbations of Mars' rotation axis, and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) will determine the amount of heat escaping from the planet's interior.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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