Phobos in Stereo! Stereoscopic Corner #8
Contributed by Claudia Manzoni and Brian May
On April 2, 2022 (Mars 2020 mission Sol 397), Mastcam-Z observed Mars’ moon Phobos transiting the Sun and provided the most zoomed-in, highest frame-rate set of images ever taken from the Martian surface of such an event.
Phobos is a small moon and, although it orbits quite close to the planet, cannot cover the Sun’s disc completely causing a total eclipse, but its regular transits have been photographed by Martian rovers several times (see some examples from Spirit and Opportunity here and from Curiosity here). Now thanks to Mastcam-Z’s zoomed-in, high-resolution images we can detect sunspots, appreciate the irregular shape of the moon’s silhouette moving across the Sun, and even identify Stickney crater as the huge depression on the left! The dramatic movie generated by the Mars 2020 rover’s Mastcam-Z team from those images, documenting Phobos’ transit in real time, gave us the unmissable opportunity to create a stereo movie, which we offer here in parallel and cross-eyed format.
The stereoscopic effect is not quite real, of course, as the parallax has been obtained by using Phobos’ motion across the disc of the Sun – but it is impressive, we think: the observer views the event as if they were standing on the surface of Mars, looking at it with eyes miles apart.
Claudia and Brian