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Mars Opportunity Rover's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama

14 March 2019

The panorama features images captured with Opportunity's Pancam instrument from May 13, 2018, to June 10, 2018.

The Opportunity rover spent almost 15 years rolling around Mars, collecting data for researchers on Earth.

There was little NASA could do to save the Opportunity rover once the dust storm on Mars swallowed almost the entire planet. It shows the vehicle's final resting place in Perseverance Valley located in Endurance Crater's western rim.

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"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", Opportunity project manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Tuesday (March 12). You can explore a higher resolution (and zoomable) version of the giant panorama on NASA's website.

If you're curious why certain parts of the panorama remain in black and white, it's because the Rover was knocked out by the massive dust storm before it was able to capture those areas with all three color filters it typically used when shooting pics. This latest panorama is like a greatest hits of the Red Planet, containing Mars' signature reddish rocks, the rim of Endeavour Crater, pieces of Opportunity itself, and views of its tracks.

After eight months of effort and sending more than a thousand commands in an attempt to restore contact with the rover, NASA declared Opportunity's mission complete on February 13, 2019.

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"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".

NASA may have declared its Opportunity rover lost, but we'll always have its data and bank of raw images. Over almost 15 years, it traversed more than 28 miles of Red Planet before ultimately meeting its end during a planet-wide snowstorm last June.

Opportunity was only planned to last 90 days after landing on the Martian surface in January 2004, but it went on to surpass all expectations.

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And it took quite a storm to knock Oppy out; the maelstrom eventually grew to encircle the entire planet.

Mars Opportunity Rover's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama