Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Opportunity's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama

Opportunity's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama

The space agency published one of the final photos they received from the 15-year-old rover.

For almost 15 years, Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004 along with its twin rover Spirit, studied the Martian surface, returning knowledge about the planet's geology and environment that will prove useful to scientists long into the future and likely serve as a guide for upcoming missions.

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

"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at JPL.

"To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavour Crater rising in the distance", he said. 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. The valley is located on Endeavour Crater's inner slope.

Mission team members have now stitched together 354 of these images, taken from May 13 through June 10, into a gorgeous panorama of the rover's final resting place. This panorama combines photos taken through three filters that capture images in different wavelengths - near-infrared, green and violet. But this one feels a little more special, considering Opportunity has come to rest in this very spot - with this immaculate view - until humans (or other sentient beings) are able to retrieve it.

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NASA explained that parts of the photo remained in black and white because Opportunity hadn't had enough time to record the locations using the green and violet filters before the dust storm engulfed the red planet, preventing the rover from charging its solar-powered batteries.

After more than 1,000 attempts to reconnect, the space administration last month conceded it was not coming back.

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

On its website, NASA shared a 360-degree panorama of the Red Planet created from 354 images NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took from May 13 to June 10, 2018. But the echoes of the rover's mission to the Red Planet can still be heard.

Its mission was supposed to last only 90 days, but it ended up doing NASA's bidding millions of miles away from home for 15 years.

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