The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover’s legacy lives on in the valuable data that it has provided for scientists. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it’s a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
The panorama was created by stitching together 354 individual images that were taken between May 13 and June 10, 2018. It used three different filters taken by Opportunity’s Panoramic camera (also known as Pancam), recording different wavelengths of light: 753 nanometers (near-infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). These wavelengths were combined to create a 3D image which was then color enhanced to show the variety of materials and textures on the planet.
“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. “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. 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 a high resolution interactive version of the image on NASA’s website, or see the annotated version of the image below:
These are the final images that Opportunity captured before its was incapacitated by a fierce dust storm which blew in during June 2018. In the true color version of the image you can see a black and white section in the bottom left where Opportunity did not have time to capture violet and green filtered images before it went offline. As a solar-powered vehicle, the rover was dependent on the rays of the Sun for power, which were blocked by the dust storm.
The very last image Opportunity transmitted was a partial image pointed towards the Sun, but showing only darkness as the dust storm moved in. Goodbye, Oppy, and we thank you for your contribution to science.