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Life and Universe

Curiosity captures amazing picture of Martian solar eclipse
London, September 17, 2012
First Published: 17:44 IST(17/9/2012)
Last Updated: 19:28 IST(17/9/2012)
Former Nasa astronaut Leland Melvin, center, actress Nichelle Nichols the original O'Hura Star Trek character, and musician, right, of The Black Eyed Peas, pose with bloggers at Nasa Social media event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The most high-tech rover Nasa has ever designed was speeding toward Mars on Monday to attempt an acrobatic landing on the planet's surface. (AP/Damian Dovarganes)

A new picture taken from the surface of Mars by NASA’s rover Curiosity shows the moon Phobos, one of the two moons orbiting the red planet, moving across the face of the sun.

The image captured a moment during a partial eclipse, with Phobos just jutting into Mars’s view of the sun, the Daily Mail reported. Though Mars may be a little further away from the sun than Earth, it would still be damaging to look directly into its light. If Curiosity pointed its regular lens straight at the sun, it could have been destroyed. So instead the rover used a neutral density filter, cutting down the sun’s intensity by a factor of 1,000, according to NBC News.

Curiosity has taken hundreds of images during the partial eclipse, and is set to take more during another eclipse involving Deimos, Mars’s other moon. But most have not yet been send to Earth because of the limitations on the rover’s ability to transmit data.

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