NASA has released one of the final photos taken by the Mars Opportunity rover before it went silent and perished in a planet-wide dust storm in June.
The color panorama was built via a sequence of 354 images snapped by the rover's Panoramic Camera between May 13 and June 10, 2018. To them the sky was already clouded with dust, and the Sun looks like a tiny dim point approximately in the center.
In late spring 2018, before the storm began assembling itself over the Martian plains, Opportunity took a series of photos of the Perseverance Valley. This magnificent panorama befits its excellent run as a source of data about the red planet.
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"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", NASA's Opportunity project manager John Callas said in a statement. The mission came to an end last summer when Opportunity became trapped in what eventually became a global dust storm on Mars. 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.
A six-wheeled robot which has sent signals to Earth from Mars captured one last stunning panorama from whatwould become its final resting place, NASA has revealed. 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. Mission scientists combined 354 separate images taken during this period and added false color to distinguish various features, such as the rover's tracks, its low-gain antenna, a rocky outcrop known as "Ysleta del Sur", the rim of Endeavor Crater, and a small hill on the crater rim. 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 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.
The mission of the Opportunity rover launched in 2004, and it was supposed to last for no longer than 90 days, which means that the little rover served NASA over a decade longer than planned.