NASA footage from various exploration missions of Mars highlight how strange and eerie solar eclipses on the red planet are. They are nothing like what we have seen on Earth.
We all know about solar eclipses and many of us have also experienced them here on Earth. The phenomena takes place when the Moon comes in front of the Sun and casts its shadow on the Earth. We have all seen the visuals of daytime turning dark when the solar eclipse happens. However, solar eclipse is not at all the same on Mars. Over the years, NASA has captured various footage of the Martian solar eclipses and the videos are not only strange and eerie but they also offer a sense of surrealism. So, how do they differ and more importantly, why do they differ? Read on to find out.
Solar eclipse on Mars is a strange phenomenon
Mars has two moons called Phobos (Greek for fear) and Deimos (Greek for dread). These two moons revolve around Mars at a high speed and complete one revolution in 7.65 and 30.35 hours respectively. This is much faster than our Moon which takes roughly 27-days to circle around the Earth. Due to this fast speed, the solar eclipses are much more frequent than that on the Earth. But that’s not all.
Both the moons of Mars are also very small compared to our Moon. While the Earth Moon has a radius of 1,737.4 kilometers, Phobos has a radius of 11.2 kilometers and Deimos has a radius of 6.2 kilometers. Because of their small size, they never cover the entire Sun and cast a small shadow on the surface of Mars.
As a result, it looks like a large dark circle moving across the landscape of Mars, making the entire solar eclipse look strange, even spooky. Check out a video captured by the NASA Perseverance rover here.
This also makes you realize how lucky we are. The solar eclipses on the Earth are all encompassing and create a vivid visual of the Sun being engulfed by the Moon. But it is a great coincidence that this is possible. It happens because the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but it is also 400 times closer to the Earth than the Sun. But this might all change in a few thousand years as the Moon is moving away from the Sun at 3.82 centimeters per year.