Curiosity watches as Mars' two moons eclipse the Sun

Curiosity Views Two Solar Eclipses on Mars

Curiosity Views Two Solar Eclipses on Mars

Also, the highest point in orbit dropped from about 6,050 km to about 4,570 km, improving MAVEN's availability to support relay communications with NASA's landers and rovers on the surface of Mars.

"It's like applying the brakes on a auto but instead of brake pads, we used Mars' atmosphere", said Stuart Demcak, the navigation team lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Phobos, which is about 11.5 km across, was imaged on March 26, while Deimos, which is about 2.3 km across, was photographed on March 17, NASA said in a statement on Thursday. From the surface of Mars, Deimos is so small in comparison to the sun that this event doesn't technically qualify as an eclipse; it is officially be called a transit instead. The rover's view of the Martian horizon at sunset showed the sky suddenly darkening, as the bigger and closer moon Phobos swept overhead and temporarily dimmed the setting sun's light. The images have been sped up by a factor of 10; the entire eclipse lasted about 35 seconds.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Mastcam.

According to NASA, the Mars rovers have captured a total of eight eclipses caused by Deimos over the years.

Both sequences were captured by Curiosity's Mast Camera, which is armed with a solar filter that lets it stare directly at the sun. That's known as an annular eclipse, which Curiosity captured on March 26. Mars has two moons; Phobos and Deimos that are small and distinct from our satellite.

Curiosity Rover's official Twitter account @MarsCuriosity posted GIFs of the eclipses.

Warming seas wreck Great Barrier Reefs regrowth
Most corals reproduce by " spawning ": releasing thousands of tight, buoyant bundles with remarkable synchronisation. Hughes said that under normal conditions, it would take about 10 years for coral recruitment to bounce back.

Observing solar eclipses help researchers fine-tune their understanding of each moon's orbit around Mars, NASA said. Deimos is small enough that scientists consider it a transit rather than an eclipse. Deimos' transit took several minutes to finish and was also sped up 10 times in the animation.

"Eclipses, sunrises and sunsets and weather phenomena all make Mars real to people, as a world both like and unlike what they see outside, not just a subject in a book", said Mark Lemmon, a co-investigator with Curiosity's Mastcam.

"More observations over time help pin down the details of each orbit". Accordingly, Martian solar eclipses can not be total.

'These orbits change all the time in response to the gravitational pull of Mars, Jupiter, or even each Martian moon pulling on the other'.

This image was taken by one of Curiosity's Navigation Cameras (Navcams). Dust particles in the atmosphere acted as a screen against which the shadow was projected.

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