Science/Tech

NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover Captured Panorama Of Red Planet Before Death

Following the announcement of the “death” of NASA's Mars rover Opportunity, the space agency has released the last view the space exploration vehicle saw on the Red Planet. 

Opportunity was hit by a dust storm in May of 2018 and it went silent on June 10 as it failed to recharge its solar-powered batteries. After several months of efforts to revive the robot, NASA declared it dead in February.

Opportunity explored Mars for more than 14 years since it landed on the planet in 2004. The rover helped scientists find evidence that Mars once had water and that the planet had the means to sustain microbial life, according to NASA

But before the Opportunity rover lost its power to continue its mission, it was able to send the last images of Mars’ surface to scientists on Earth. 

NASA recently released 354 images taken by the spacecraft from May 13 through June 10 last year. The Opportunity rover team compiled the images that showed the panorama of the rover's final resting place, the Perseverance Valley on the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater, according to Space.com.

"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, Calif., said in a statement.

View the panorama of the Martian surface Opportunity captured before it died here.

"To the right of center, you can see the rim of Endeavor Crater rising in the distance. 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. 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," Callas added.

However, some parts of the panorama are black and white in color because Opportunity was hit by the dust storm before it took colored pictures of those areas. 

Interestingly, the panorama wasn’t actually the very last photos taken by the explorer. NASA also released two images that Opportunity took minutes before it went offline. The photos are two blurry, black-and-white thumbnails taken on June 10, the day it lost signal. They show a tiny, faint Sun in a dark and dusty sky. 

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