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NASA's Mars rover Opportunity leaves us with one final, glorious panorama

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity leaves us with one final, glorious panorama

A portion of the Martian landscape from the final photo captured by NASA's Opportunity rover. To the left are tabular rocks, which tend to be thin and flat, and to the right are pitted rocks, which have compositions unlike any rocks previously seen during the mission.

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", John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who served as Opportunity project manager, said in a NASA news release. From the last picture taken by the vehicle, we can see that Opportunity latest moments were spent in Perseverance Valley located in Endurance Crater's western rim. The mission came to an end last summer when Opportunity became trapped in what eventually became a global dust storm on Mars.

Now NASA has published the final images sent by the Rover; in addition, the Agency shared a 360-degree panorama of the Valley of Fortitude (Perseverance Valley) - places where the unit ended its almost 15-year career on the red planet.

NASA sent more than 1,000 commands to Opportunity in an attempt to reestablish connection following a planetary dust storm in 2018 but was unsuccessful suggesting the rover either encountered a catastrophic failure or had its solar panels covered by dust.

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The picture is an incredible panoramic view of Opportunity's resting place in the aptly named Perseverance Valley.

Opportunity, along with its partner, Spirit, launched in 2003 as part of the Mars Exploration Rover program to study Mars' surface. "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", he said.

An annotated version of Opportunity's final panorama.

The image, shown in full on NASA's website, was taken using the rover's Panoramic Camera (PanCam). This is the result of the massive storm that ultimately took Opportunity out of commission a year ago. NASA says the black and white frames at the bottom left of the image are that way because the rover did not have time to finish the panorama before it died.

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. The dust storm hit before the rover could be able to do otherwise.