In 2012, an American Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars, becoming an important project to explore the Red Planet. In addition to the basic tools, the device also has solar filters on the Mastcam camera, due to which it can look at the light and take pictures. Since mid-March, filters have been used twice to capture solar eclipses caused by the passage of two Martian satellites Phobos and Deimos.
On March 17 of this year, the Curiosity camera captured the moment of transit along the Deimos solar disk, whose diameter is 2.3 km. Nine days later, it was the turn of the already larger Phobos with a diameter of 11.5 km.
It is worth noting that solar eclipses were recorded more than once before both by Curiosity itself and other rovers. This is not only a very colorful spectacle, but also a valuable moment for science, because in this way you can get a lot of information regarding the orbits of satellites of the fourth planet of the solar system.
“Before the appearance of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars, there was much greater uncertainty about the orbits of the moons of this planet than at present. For example, watching Deimos eclipses the Sun, we suddenly found that he is located 40 km from the point where he should be, according to early research. Additional studies allow us to better understand the details of the orbits of these moons, which often change under the influence of the gravitational force of Mars, Jupiter and even due to mutual attraction, ”said Mark Lemmon, a member of the Curiosity mission at Texas A & M University.
If we take all the observed eclipses, there are about five dozen of them, only eight of which are the transit of Deimos. But even now, as scientists admit, there are a lot of questions concerning the characteristics of the orbits of the Martian moons. However, with each new observation, the situation inevitably becomes more and more clear.