Opportunity spent its final months building this panorama of its location, which is now its gravesite.
When NASA’s Opportunity rover was declared dead in February, the space community mourned the loss of one of its most tenacious robotic explorers.
But at least the beloved rover, which holds the off-Earth driving distance record, managed to take one last panorama before it died. NASA released this image on Tuesday, showing Opportunity’s final resting place at the edge of Endeavor Crater.
The picture is a composite of 354 images that Opportunity snapped between May 13 through June 10 using its Pancam instrument.
NASA lost contact with the rover on June 10 in the midst of a major planet-wide dust storm. In this interactive version of the panorama, you can see that the bottom left corner of the image is in black and white because the storm intensified before Opportunity had a chance to use its color filters on that portion.
The rover was working hard to send back visuals to the end. This grainy dark picture was the final transmission NASA received from the robot.
“This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery,” said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “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 also pointed out that the rover’s tracks are visible in the panorama. Its fitting that Opportunity’s last look at Mars includes the tangible imprint it left on the planet—a poignant symbol of its incredible 15-year journey.
Sources: • Motherboard