Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

NASA's Opportunity Rover took one final stunning 360 degree panorama of Mars

NASA's Opportunity Rover took one final stunning 360 degree panorama of Mars

The agency made one final attempt to contact Opportunity Rover (pictured) eight months after the spacecraft last made contact.

However, although Opportunity is now forever resting in peace, just before the massive martian storm struck, the tenacious rover managed to capture one final panorama of the Red Planet - and it's glorious.

NASA hoped the robot would return to working order after the storm once sunlight could reach its solar panels, but it never responded.

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

"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", said in a statement accompanying the photo Opportunity project manager John Callas. 'To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavor Crater rising in the distance. 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.' NASA also provided an annotated version of the image pointing out the various features that Opportunity captured in the shot.

As the sky darkened around it last spring, Opportunity snapped many photos of its environs - Perseverance Valley, on the rim of the 14-mile-wide (22 kilometers) Endeavour Crater - using its panoramic camera. Images were taken between May 13 and June 10, 2018. The images composing the panorama were taken over the course of 29 days.

However, NASA's Mars exploration perseveres with the InSight lander, which touched down in November, now just beginning its scientific investigations and the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Gale Crater for more than six years. This is because Oppy did not have time to image those frames with color filters before the devastating dust storm struck.

Recently NASA has given up trying to contact the Mars Rover Opportunity, and contact with it was lost in the early summer of past year in connection with the beginning of a powerful dust storm.

These two thumbnails, with the faint sun near the middle of each, are the last images NASA's Opportunity rover took on Mars as a dust storm darkened the sky.

Efforts to re-establish contact with the silent Opportunity following the months-long 2018 dust storm were unsuccessful, leading NASA to end the mission in February 2019.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed a few weeks apart in January 2004.

The upcoming 2020 rover mission will for the first time seek signs of past microbial life on the planet, together with the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover.

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