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Opportunity Spots Phobos Skimming the Sun

4 May 2017, 18:33 UTC
Opportunity Spots Phobos Skimming the Sun
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Animation of raw panorama camera images from NASA’s Opportunity rover on May 3, 2017. NASA/JPL-Caltech; animation by Jason Major
It may be in its 14th year on Mars but Opportunity still has some surprises to show us—like this, a series of images captured on May 3, 2017 showing the Sun as seen from Mars. But that’s not the special part: see the change in brightness along the Sun’s edge near the end? That was a brief transit of Phobos, the largest (and nearest) of Mars’ two moons!
Can’t see it very well? It’s quick, I know—so check out a cropped and enlarged version below:

Animation of raw panorama camera images from NASA’s Opportunity rover on May 3, 2017. (Cropped, enlarged and rotated 90º CCW).
I rotated the image above 90 degrees counterclockwise for another angle on the transit. The images were captured with Opportunity’s right panorama camera on mission sol 4719.
Unfortunately in the public raw images that were posted to the MER site the Sun is close to the edge of the frame, so there’s not more detail than this.
I’m going to guess that some of the bright streaking coming from the Sun is internal glare in the ...

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