Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

NASA releases the final panorama that Opportunity took on Mars

NASA releases the final panorama that Opportunity took on Mars

The trailblazing mission ended after almost 15 years of exploring the surface of Mars, but its legacy will live on.

Ultimately, NASA revealed Opportunity's final heartbreaking message to Earth: "My battery is low and its; getting dark".

NASA also provided an annotated version of the image pointing out the various features that Opportunity captured in the shot.

It gives a view of the rim of the Endeavour Crater in the distance, rover tracks from Opportunity, and to the far right and left is the bottom of Perseverance Valley.

"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", said Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Before a Martian dust storm took out Opportunity in June 2018, the rover was able to capture hundreds of images that NASA has now released as a panorama. This magnificent panorama befits its excellent run as a source of data about the red planet. It shows a number of interesting features of Perseverance Valley, in addition to the pristine, unexplored floor of Endurance Crater.

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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.

Opportunity was part of the Mars Exploration Rovers program that called for two identical machines to be sent to Mars.

This 360-degree panorama is composed of 354 images taken by the Opportunity rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13 through June 10, 2018, or sols (Martian days) 5,084 through 5,111.

The trailblazing rover missions may be over but NASA said Opportunity's legacy "will live on".

Although the panorama provides one last look of Opportunity's resting grounds, the rover's very last image tells a slightly bleaker tale. Opportunity's scientific discoveries contributed to our unprecedented understanding of the planet's geology and environment, laying the groundwork for future robotic and human missions to the Red Planet.

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

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