NASA Opportunity's Last Image: Beautiful Panorama Reveals Mars Rover's Final Resting Place

Federico Mansilla
Marcha 13, 2019

There was little NASA could do to save the Opportunity rover once the dust storm on Mars swallowed almost the entire planet.

The robot was killed off shortly after it got trapped in soft sand.

NASA's Opportunity Rover took one last stunning image of Mars's landscape, before losing touch with them after 15 years last month.

Comprised of 354 individual images captured between May 13 and June 10 of previous year, the panorama has been stitched together to highlight Perseverance Valley, a system of shallow troughs on the inner slope of the western rim of the Endurance Crater.

The panorama was created from 354 individual images taken over a 29-day period last spring using three different filters on the rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam.) Several features of the surrounding area can be seen, as well as some tracks that the rover left before it came to its final resting place.

This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery.

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On March 12, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) revealed a set of glorious 360-degree panoramas nabbed by Opportunity in Perseverance Valley, right on the western rim of a huge Martian crater known as Endurance. And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers.

To help differentiate areas and materials, NASA made the panorama (shown above) in "false color" which enhances certain elements. Helpfully, the image is annotated with other geologic details to give you a better sense of what you're looking at.

Opportunity retired over a decade later than planned - the mission launched in 2004 and was only supposed to last for 90 days.

The panorama features images captured with Opportunity's Pancam instrument from May 13, 2018, to June 10, 2018.

'It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our fearless astronauts walk on the surface of Mars, ' NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last month. As the black bar at the bottom of the frame shows, the rover went dark before it could send the entire image (and before it could send the full-frame versions of the two thumbnails).

After eight months of effort and sending more than a thousand commands in an attempt to restore contact with the rover, NASA declared Opportunity's mission complete on February 13th, 2019.

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