MAR 13, 2019 09:42 AM PDT

This is the Last Panorama Image That NASA's Opportunity Rover Ever Produced

NASA’s long-lived Opportunity rover mission came to an unfortunate end last month after nearly 15 years’ worth of scientific exploration on Mars. Despite being silenced by a planet-wide dust storm just last year, the Opportunity rover’s impressive legacy lives on. Existing and upcoming Martian rovers will continue to explore the red planet’s surface with the hope of some significant scientific discovery.

An artist's rendition of the Opportunity rover on Mars.

Image Credit: NASA

To commemorate Opportunity’s breathtaking service to planetary scientists everywhere, NASA just this week published what appears to be the rover’s final 360-degree panoramic image, which was allegedly captured last Spring just before Mars’ massive dust storm materialized and threw a wrench in NASA’s Opportunity-centric plans. That image has been embedded below for your viewing pleasure:

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery," elucidated John Callas, the Opportunity rover mission’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Callas continued by describing the contents of the panoramic image in an attempt to give us all a better idea of what we’re actually looking at:

"To the right of center, you can see the rim of Endeavor Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close. 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."

Related: Say hello to the future landing site of the Mars 2020 rover

According to NASA, this particular panorama was stitched together out of 354 individual images snapped by Opportunity’s Pancam (panoramic camera), and they were purportedly captured during 29 days between May 10th and June 13th.

NASA also explains that the bottom-left region of the panorama remains black and white because Opportunity didn’t have enough time to resolve the true colors before Mars’ dust storm ensued, blocking the view and hindering progress (evidently for good).

Although captivating, the panorama indeed invokes some slightly bittersweet feelings. For example, this is the last place Opportunity saw before meeting its untimely doom last Spring. Put another way, we’re actually looking at the surroundings of the Opportunity rover’s final resting place, and it sure is beautiful to say the least.

The space agency also shared the following incomplete image, adding that this was the last piece of data Opportunity sent to Earth before becoming permanently unreachable. As we can tell, it’s somewhat noisy, which speaks to the rather harsh conditions that fell upon Opportunity:

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

Related: The Curiosity rover's wheels are starting to break

While it’s certainly unfortunate that the Opportunity rover mission couldn’t be revived, it’s still somewhat remarkable that the rover managed to complete this beautiful panorama before kicking the bucket. After all, it’s a view to behold.

And for those of you that like Martian panoramas... stay tuned; that's something that the fully-operational Curiosity rover can still do; and same with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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