NASA’s Curiosity rover has captured stunning images of a solar eclipse from the surface of Mars. The video shows the largest martian moon, Phobos, as it passes in front of the Sun. This type of eclipse is referred to as an annular eclipse, as Phobos does not completely block out the Sun; instead, a ring of light remains visible around the moon.
As a Co-Investigator on Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments, CMS Director Meenakshi Wadhwa is one of the scientists guiding the rover to interesting targets and interpreting data from the mission. SAM is aimed at finding and analyzing elements important to life such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen and any organic compounds that contain these elements. SAM’s gas chromatograph is designed to separate any mixture of organic compounds Curiosity finds into individual components for identification, while the SAM mass spectrometer and tunable laser spectrometer can measure the molecular and isotopic composition of rock and atmospheric samples.
You can learn more about the MSL mission and keep abreast of mission developments at http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/