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These Are the Last Photos NASA's Opportunity Rover Took on Mars

14 March 2019

There was little NASA could do to save the Opportunity rover once the dust storm on Mars swallowed almost the entire planet.

When the light finally returned to the surface after the dust had settled, Opportunity was still silent and would remain that way for months, despite repeated attempts to wake it back up.

In late spring 2018, before the storm began assembling itself over the Martian plains, Opportunity took a series of photos of the Perseverance Valley.

NASA's Mars rover may have been pronounced dead after 15 years on the Red Planet, but its legacy will live on through one final photo of the barren Martian lands. NASA says the black and white frames at the bottom left of the image are that way because the rover did not have time to finish the panorama before it died.

"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery", Opportunity project manager John Callas from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. It shows a number of interesting features of Perseverance Valley, in addition to the pristine, unexplored floor of Endurance Crater. Images were taken between May 13 and June 10, 2018. This magnificent panorama befits its excellent run as a source of data about the red planet. The 360-degree photo is composed of 354 images overall, taken by the rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13th through June 10th. 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.

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Its scientific discoveries contributed to an advanced understanding of the planet's geology and environment, setting foundations for future robotic and human missions to the harsh environment of Mars.

The US space agency has now shared the rover's "parting shot", cementing Opportunity's achievements in the history of Mars exploration.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed a few weeks apart in January 2004.

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

These Are the Last Photos NASA's Opportunity Rover Took on Mars