NASA Mars Perseverance rover took a time-lapse film of the somewhat-cloudy Martian sky when it serendipitously captured the smaller of the red planet's two moons, Deimos, twinkling above in the Martian twilight.
The Perseverance team produced a short film of the Martian sky taken from a series of pictures from the Mars rover and posted the video to Twitter under the rover's own Twitter account, NASAPersevere.
Sky watching is fun no matter where you are. I took this short time lapse movie to watch for clouds, and caught something else: look closely and you’ll see Deimos, one of two moons of Mars.More on this tiny moon: https://t.co/TzHMc0aIS3 pic.twitter.com/akfbhfsw33August 20, 2021
The Mars rover, which landed on Mars earlier this year, has only really begun the work it was sent to Mars to perform. It's finally getting to collect soil samples and looking for signs of ancient life in a region of Mars once believed to contain a primordial lake that dried up billions of years ago.
Like its cousin the NASA Mars Curiosity rover, Perseverance is particularly adept at social media – or more precisely, their teams back at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are – and so getting new posts from the newer rover's perspective on Mars via Twitter looks like it's a scientific tradition that will continue for the foreseeable future.
Analysis: Science is way more 'Huh, will you look at that...' than it is 'Eureka!'
While this is not the first time we've seen Deimos or its sibling moon, Phobos, from the Martian surface, the recent Perseverance time lapse film is a reminder that the best science usually happens when you're not expecting it or you are looking for something else entirely.
Some of the greatest scientific discoveries, like penicillin, came about because someone saw or realized something they hadn't set out to find, but followed their curiosity toward a significant discovery or to show us something known from a new perspective.
So while spotting Deimos from the Jezero Crater and capturing it on film isn't exactly new, it's still inspires the kind of awe that makes us all love science, and space science in particular, in the first place.