Opportunity's last gift from Mars is a lovely panorama

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity leaves us with one final, glorious panorama

"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.

The panorama is composed of 354 individual images provided by the rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13 through June 10, or sols (Martian days) 5,084 through 5,111.

'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.

This storm-which blanketed the entire planet-caused NASA to lose contact with the solar-powered rover.

In a new post, NASA reveals what it says is the final "parting shot" that Opportunity captured before the dust storm killed it.

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The Opportunity rover spent almost 15 years rolling around Mars, collecting data for researchers on Earth. It shows a number of interesting features of Perseverance Valley, in addition to the pristine, unexplored floor of Endurance Crater. 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.

'And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration'.

The image shows where Opportunity will rest until humans are able to touch down on the red planet in the future. Since its last communication on June 10, 2018 operators sent more than a thousand commands to try and restore communications, but in February, NASA declared the mission over. For these images, the filters block out all light except for three wavelengths: 753 nanometres (near-infrared), 535 nanometres (green), and 432 nanometres (violet).

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed a few weeks apart in January 2004. If you combine these images by putting each one into the red, green, or blue colour channel, you can see an approximate true-colour image of what Mars looks like.

In its lifetime, Opportunity has explored two craters on the red planet, Victoria and Endeavour, as well as found several signs of water.

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