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  • 18 September 2012, 12:59

Mars Solar Eclipse Photographed By Curiosity

Nasa's Curiosity rover has captured images of a partial solar eclipse on Mars.

The photograph shows the brief moment that tiny Martian moon Phobos crossed the face of the sun for a few seconds.

Phobos is 16-miles across at its widest and orbits Mars every 7.6 hours.

Ground controllers sent commands to Curiosity for it to take hundreds of photos during the event, however only a few pictures have been transmitted so far.

The rover took the photos roughly five weeks after landing inside the Red Planet's huge Gale crater.

The images were taken with its mast camera, which used a filter to downgrade the Martian sunlight to one-thousandth of its normal intensity.

Solar eclipses are far more common on Mars than Earth.

The planet is closer to Phobos than Earth is to the moon, meaning it blocks out the sun's rays more often.

Another partial solar eclipse is expected around one year from now.

Previous Mars rovers have also documented eclipses. The Opportunity rover recorded video of one of Mars' two moons passing the sun in November 2010.

Curiosity is the most complex and scientifically powerful robotic spacecraft ever built to explore the surface of another planet.

It is on a mission to look for organic compounds and signs of past or present habitability.

It is equipped with 17 cameras, a seven-foot-long robot arm, and a suite of 10 state-of-the-art scientific sensors.

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