Science

NASA Releases A Beautiful Panorama Of Mars Taken By Opportunity

Opportunity Rover
NASA/JPL/Cornell University, Maas Digital LLC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
NASA’s Opportunity rover is done for good after the space agency’s final efforts to awaken the silent rover resulted in failure. However, NASA scientists are reminiscing about the wondrous discoveries made by the golf cart-sized robot by publishing a beautiful panorama of Mars taken by Opportunity.

The panorama of Mars was one of the many photos the rover took last spring. The 360-degree photo consists of many images that show the Martian soil and Opportunity’s final resting place in Perseverance Valley. The valley is located on Endeavour Crater’s inner slope.

Panorama Of Mars
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

The Opportunity rover has been on Mars for over 15 years. It was actively working for 14 years until it fell asleep during a global dust storm on June 10. The rover’s discoveries on Mars will be a legacy for future exploration of the Red Planet. Opportunity contributed to the vast understanding of Martian geology and its environment. The rover’s findings will make it easier new robots to explore the planet and possibly pave the way for manned missions eventually.

The panorama of Mars consists of 354 individual images taken by Opportunity’s panoramic camera, also referred to as the “Pancam,” between May 13 and June 10, when the rover entered sleep mode. The images spanned were taken between sols (or Martian days) 5,084 and 5,111 on the planet. The images were taken using three Pancam filters to capture enough light to produce clear images.

NASA noted in its statement about the panorama that a few of the frames remained black and white because the rover didn’t have enough time to record them using its green and violet color filters due to the dust storm in June. NASA’s gallery also includes the last images the Opportunity rover took of its new home, including the black-and-white thumbnails which show how the sky looked on the last day of its activity.

Unfortunately, NASA’s repeated attempts to wake the sleeping Opportunity rover were in vain. The rover’s solar panels were coated in dust, preventing it from recharging its batteries. After its final efforts at the end of January, the space agency decided to put the mission to rest.