Mars Curiosity Rover Photographs Solar Eclipse While Enroute To Mount Sharp
NASA's Curiosity rover has taken the sharpest-ever images of a solar eclipse as viewed from the Red Planet. The image (seen here) shows Phobos, Mars' largest moon, going past the sun. The series of three images, taken three seconds apart, were snapped on August 17, 2013, using the telephoto lens on the rover's Mast Camera, or Mastcam.
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"This event occurred near noon at Curiosity's location, which put Phobos at its closest point to the rover, appearing larger against the sun than it would at other times of day," said Curiosity scientist Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station. He added, "This one is by far the most detailed image of any Martian lunar transit ever taken. It was even closer to the sun's center than predicted, so we learned something."
Phobos did not completely cover the sun during the eclipse, so it was a ring, or annular, type of eclipse.
The Curiosity rover in the middle of its months-long trip to Mount Sharp, a three-mile high mountain where NASA hopes to find evidence about how the Martian environment has evolved. Curiosity has been given autonomous navigation by the trusting scientists at NASA, so the rover will be able to determine its own path to Mount Sharp. The rover decides this by analyzing images it takes during the trip.
"Curiosity takes several sets of stereo pairs of images, and the rover's computer processes that information to map any geometric hazard or rough terrain," said Mark Maimone of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The rover considers all the paths it could take to get to the designated endpoint for the drive and chooses the best one."
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