On Earth, we just enjoyed a full moon. NASA’s Perseverance rover also gets to indulge in some celestial satellite viewing on Mars, where it recently spotted the red planet’s small companion Deimos.
NASA shared a short movie of rover images taken while Perseverance was making a time lapse to watch for clouds. The star of the show ended up being a tiny bright dot: Deimos.
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Deimos is dainty and has an odd, lumpy shape. Mars has two moons (Phobos is the other), and crater-pocked Deimos is the smaller of them at a mere 9 miles (15 kilometers) at its widest.
“Sky watching is fun no matter where you are,” the rover team tweeted on Friday.
Cloud viewing is part of Perseverance’s science work in the Jezero Crater. One of its main missions is to look for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars, but it’s also scoping out the geology, geography and weather.
While Mars is famous for being dusty and dry, it sometimes delivers some lovely cloud action, as when NASA’s Curiosity rover spotted “mother of pearl” clouds in a different region of the red planet. These aren’t the big, puffy, showy clouds we often see on Earth. Mars clouds are pretty subtle.
Perseverance recently marked six months on Mars with a Google Photos celebration video. This latest moon-spotting snapshot is worthy of the highlight reel.