• The Perseverance rover captured footage of a recent Martian total solar eclipse
  • The footage shows the "potato-shaped" Phobos passing in front of the sun
  • It reportedly adds to the history of NASA rovers capturing footage of Martian eclipses

NASA's Perseverance Rover had a stunning view of a Martian solar eclipse, and the footage is incredible.

Solar eclipses are often special events here on Earth, with many people really taking the time to observe them using their special eclipse glasses. They also happen on Mars, except the only audiences of the events are the rovers that humanity has sent over.

The Perseverance rover took a little break from its exploration on April 2 to watch a Martian total solar eclipse using its "next-generation" Mastcam-Z camera, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

In the video shared by JPL, one can see "potato-shaped" Phobos, one of the Martian moons, passing in front of the sun. The event was much shorter than the solar eclipses on Earth at just over 40 seconds, JPL noted.

"I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't expect it to be this amazing," Rachel Howson, one of the Mastcam-Z team members, said in the JPL news release. "It feels like a birthday or holiday when they arrive. You know what's coming, but there is still an element of surprise when you get to see the final product."

This isn't the first time that a Mars rover has observed a Phobos eclipse, JPL noted. The first observations were back in 2004 with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. At the time, they took the first photographs of the Martian solar eclipses. Years later, in 2019, Curiosity captured the first videos of the Phobos and Deimos eclipses.

However, the new footage is said to be the "most zoomed-in, highest frame rate" footage of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from Mars, according to JPL. Indeed, the footage shows the spectacular view that Perseverance had of the event.

"You can see details in the shape of Phobos' shadow, like ridges and bumps on the moon's landscape," planetary astronomer Mark Lemmon of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said, as per JPL. "You can also see sunspots. And it's cool that you can see this eclipse exactly as the rover saw it from Mars."

Not only do the videos provide stunning views of an otherworldly phenomenon, but they also give scientists a chance to observe changes in Phobos' orbit and even reveal more information about the materials on its crust and mantle, according to JPL. So far, it is believed that Phobos is on its way to crashing on the surface of Mars, although this would likely happen in the distant future, millions of years from now.

NASA's Perseverance became the fifth rover to successfully land on Mars since 1997, launching shortly after China's Tianwen-1
NASA's Perseverance became the fifth rover to successfully land on Mars since 1997, launching shortly after China's Tianwen-1 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS / Handout