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The Curiosity Rover has done some pretty epic things since landing on Mars just over a year ago, but filming the larger of the planet’s moons, Phobos, passing directly in front of the other, Deimos, has to be right up there.
According to an official post from NASA, the exploratory vehicle is the first to capture images of a lunar eclipse from the Martian surface.
The images that comprise the video were reportedly captured on 1 August, but some of the full-resolution frames were not downlinked until more than a week later, because images used for planning Curiosity’s drives took higher priority.
The US-space agency says that these observations of Phobos and Deimos will help researchers make knowledge of the moons’ orbits even more precise.
“The ultimate goal is to improve orbit knowledge enough that we can improve the measurement of the tides Phobos raises on the Martian solid surface, giving knowledge of the Martian interior,” said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station. He is a co-investigator for use of Curiosity’s Mastcam. “We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos’ orbit is systematically changing.”
In addition to being seriously cool then, the capturing of these images will advance human knowledge, unlike the time scientists accidentally used Curiosity to draw a giant penis on the planet’s surface.