NASA publishes final Mars Opportunity rover panorama

Olive Hawkins
March 14, 2019

The robot was killed off shortly after it got trapped in soft sand. The 360-degree photo is composed of 354 images overall, taken by the rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13th through June 10th.

"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". You can see it below and scroll around a larger version on the NASA press page here.

B, better known as Opportunity, stopped responding to commands in August 2018, prompting NASA to officially declare the mission's end last month.

"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).

Although the panorama provides one last look of Opportunity's resting grounds, the rover's very last image tells a slightly bleaker tale. Opportunity took the photos on June 10, 2018.

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The gallery includes the last images Opportunity obtained during its mission (black-and-white thumbnail images from the Pancam that were used to determine how opaque the sky was on its last day) and also the last piece of data the rover transmitted (a "noisy", incomplete full-frame image of a darkened sky).

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

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. 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.

The Opportunity rover spent almost 15 years rolling around Mars, collecting data for researchers on Earth. Spirit wasn't declared dead until 2011, and Opportunity was still going strong before the dust storm hit.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated byKarl Tate), is out now.

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